Pagadala blasts off into STEM as TSA parliamentarian, computer science student

Varshitha Korrapolu, Communications Manager

She does not just type away on a computer at school. She wants software, space and leadership present in her daily life. She codes with focus as her eyes are fixated on her computer screen, determined to be a part of the innovation happening in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field. 

CHS9 student Chandana Pagadala is the parliamentarian for the CHS9 Technology Student Association (TSA) chapter and is a principles of computer science student. Pagadala aspires to be an aerospace engineer as her love for space sprouted from a young age. 

After watching Hidden Figures, a film on African-American women who work for NASA and plays a integral roles in running a space mission, Pagadala’s interest in space started to grow. 

“The idea that there is a whole expanding and infinite universe is so cool,” Pagadala said. “I would like to be there and see what happens myself. I want to be someone in the room seeing these things first hand.”

Despite not being the president of the organization, CHS9 computer science teacher Stephanie Hinojosa thinks Pagadala plays a key role in the behind the scenes activities of TSA. 

“[Pagadala] is one of the hardest working students I have ever had,” Hinojosa said. “She always makes sure that she’s prepared and everything is ready, organized and good to go. She is always willing to step in and do things that need to be done. She’s wonderful to have in the classroom and in TSA.”

The CHS9 TSA parliamentarian position enables Pagadala to gain experience leading a student-run club for the first time. The lack of experience does not hinder her ability to contribute her ideas for the betterment of the organizations. 

“During the first meeting, I liked what [TSA] stood for and how it was STEM-based and how it was run,” Pagadala said. “I really wanted to be a part of the action when I heard it was a student-run organization. I wanted to see how far students could take this organization and what they would do with it.” 

Since CHS9 was established in 2018, the TSA chapter present there has operated differently each year up until now. To create a sense of normalcy, Hinojosa, CHS9 TSA sponsors Grant Garner and Andrea Cook gave Pagadala the ability to run the by-law committee, a subdivision of the club that creates a guide to assist future TSA members. 

In addition to running the by-law committee, Pagadala ensures parliamentary procedures, in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order (a guide written by the U.S. Army officer Henry Martyn Robert that was created in 1876), are followed at meetings. Pagadala has a physical, hardcover copy of the book and shares information she gains with the other CHS9 TSA officers. 

“She’s really assertive about laws and she’s a rule follower,” CHS9 TSA president Rudhmila Hoque said. “She basically enforces parliamentary procedure according to Robert’s Rules of Order. She helps me with that because I am not really familiar with that, but she is.”  

Pagadala shares her passion for STEM with her older sister, Coppell High School 2020 graduate Ananya Pagadala, a mathematics and computer science major at Santa Clara University. 

“We need more women in STEM in society so we both have that connection,” Ananya said. “Anything that I loved or wished that I did when I was younger, I tell my sister about it. She will tell me stuff that I never knew about before. We are learning a lot about the STEM field.”

With a combination of hard work, dedication and lively personality Chandana’s presence adds to the CHS9 TSA leadership team. 

“She has a positive mentality so she brightens everything up,” Hoque said. “She’s very optimistic and makes TSA fun. She helps with all the motion carrying, although I execute it. She helps with the attendance and sometimes she makes presentation slides.”

Chandana ensures that there is balance between her involvement in TSA, computer science and track and field as she wants to be a thrower for the team. 

“[Without Chandana, TSA] would be a mess,” Hinojosa said. “Obviously we have great members and officers that could do it, but she makes it look easy and I know it’s not. It’s a lot of work for her. She’s a great kid.”

As her high school experience has just begun, Chandana’s teachers, friends and family think that she has great potential in the STEM field because she is already getting herself immersed in what she loves. 

“She is doing a great job getting a jump on it here in high school,” Hinojosa said. “If she wants to go into aerospace engineering, her whole world is going to be around computers and technology. This is where the world is going. It’s smart of her to get started on it.” 

Follow Varshitha (@varshitha1128) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.