Newspaper article

Meet the New Face of STEM: Shefali Mehta

Newspaper article

Meet the New Face of STEM: Shefali Mehta

Article excerpt

Kevin Williams, the museum's Curator of Education, says he's impressed by the attitude of the Teaching SMART volunteers he meets, especially given the pressures faced by many of today's students.

"The undergraduate and graduate students who do this volunteering have my complete respect and awe. Students today are under terrific pressure, and school tuition and living expenses are increasing every year. If I were their age, there is no way I would feel I could take on volunteering, in addition to all they do," he says.

And although their aspirations are high, Teaching SMART is still a very lean organization. Last year, they worked with more than 200 students and spent a grand total of $1,000, including the cost of field trips to the Bell Museum on the University of Minnesota campus.

A love match, a hurricane, and hockey

For her part, Mehta has had a whirlwind year that included a move, a new job and getting married. Shefali and David's October wedding took place near her hometown of Bethel, Conn., just hours before Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. "We got married outside, and you can see the storm clouds in the photos. It was -- dramatic," she says.

Still, her parents, who had their own marriage arranged 39 years ago by family members in India, were incredibly supportive that their daughter was making a "love match," no matter how catastrophic the weather predictions were.

The newlyweds, who live in St. Paul's Midway neighborhood, are hoping to settle into the groove of staying in one place, together. Mehta wants to take up the off-duty passions that fell by the wayside during her McKinsey years. She describes herself as "a hot pepper enthusiast," even growing several varieties at home, but she has learned to provide advance warning to her Minnesota-native husband when she puts an exotic hot sauce in a recipe.

She also loves independent music. One of the 13 jobs she's held was as a press intern for the Matador record label in New York, where she was able to meet her idol, Stephen Malkmus of Pavement. …

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