Antara Sen ’22 dug into research for NASA their first year at Ithaca College, but they remember starting out as a nervous student.
“I wasn't very sure about my skills or my aptitudes at all,” confesses Antara, a double physics and mathematics major. “I’ve had a mentality that natural ability is what gets people places. And I never thought I had it.”
Antara took refuge in physics classes where they combined curiosity (“I like to understand things to the really, really minor details”) with a passion for building things. An international student who calls Malaysia home, they found friends and a sense of family in “the cozy, very comfy” physics department, where students and faculty work together on a first name basis.
But it took time and mentorship—along with an understanding that it’s okay “to ask” and “to be in the dark”—to build Antara’s confidence.
Professor Beth Ellen Clark Joseph, chair of IC’s physics department, served as one of Antara’s first research advisors. “Beth’s been this one constant who’s pushed me further and further and has helped me apply skills that I didn’t even know I had,” says Antara.