Welcome to the Forty Over 40 blog. We frequently spotlight one of our honorees and their thoughts on reinvention, mentorship and momentum…plus a peek into what makes them tick.

This Q & A is with Anima Patil-Sabale, Scientist-AStronaut Candidate & Aerospace Engineer. Anima is innovating her field of work through her “My Astronaut Aspirations” website and her Facebook “Astronaut Aspirant Anima Patil-Sabale” page. Anima has been answering questions from young girls and boys from ages ranging 5 years to those studying in colleges and universities, to women her own age, who ask her how does she manage her routine of work, family, household duties and do all the things she does for her dream job.

1) What was a pivotal moment of reinvention for you?

Even after I began my career as a software engineer, I always kept exploring to see what I can do to be able to work in the Aerospace Industry and start paving a path to become an astronaut. While working in Mumbai I was looking into studying Ph.D. Aeronautic. But then I came to the US as a software engineering consultant and after I settled down, and was watching the space shuttles continuously launching, that’s when I decided to study here and found out about the MS. Aerospace Engineering program at San Jose State University, SJSU which was the closest and one I could afford with a little difficulty. So I would say moment of reinvention was taking the step to start my MS in Aerospace Engineering at San Jose State University.

2) Who has been a valuable mentor or sponsor?

No one specific. I wish I had someone, would be an astronaut by now!

3) What is your biggest goal right now?

Becoming a NASA Astronaut.

4)  How did you get your first job? How did you jump to your second job?

I was looking for a software company where I could do my 6 month Industrial Training to complete my Masters in Computer Applications. I kept looking for opportunities in Mumbai (I had travelled to Mumbai from my hometown which was 8 hours by train from Mumbai. Had given myself 10 days to find a job in Mumbai else return home as it was expensive to stay there) On the 10 th and final day of my stay in Mumbai, I got industrial training opportunity in a small software consulting firm and that is how my career began. After my industrial training and Masters, I continued working for the same company for a while.

5)  What time do you typically wake up? What do you do every morning?

Since I have a long commute (1 hour each way) I wake up at 3:45-4am, cook and pack lunches, get my boys’s clothes etc ready for them to go to school, and leave home between 5-5:15. I get to work by 6 and leave at 2 so that I get home by 3 when the boys return home from school.

6)  How did you feel on your 30th birthday? What were you doing at that time? 

I do not remember clearly but that was the time when I was applying for second Masters, the one in Aerospace Engineering and thinking of all the other things I could do to start working towards my goal. I was on H1B visa so there wasn’t much I could do, but I also tried applying for jobs at NASA knowing very well that I have no chances of even being called for an interview. I continued looking into what all I could do to become an astronaut. I started MS in January 2005, so spent the time around my birthday August 2004 and the rest of 2004 just getting excited to start the MS AE and preparing for it.

7) How do you unplug? How often do you unplug?

Not often as I would want to!  But want to do it more often. I unplug by spending time with my boys either going outdoors with them or in their Boyscout activities. I also get involved in community activities, doing talks, recently did one for the Computer History Museums Design-Code- Build event for middle schoolers. And also have been teaching dance medleys to kids and Moms for an event that’s happening on 20th August.

8) What’s the best networking contact you’ve made? How did you make it?

I have been able to connect with fellow astronaut hopefuls on Facebook and share my experiences with them while I learn from them.

9) What challenge / achievement are you most proud of?

Having been a non-swimmer growing up (swimming wasn’t common in India when I was growing up in the 80s) I am proud of overcoming my fears of not being able to breathe underwater and getting scuba certified. I am proud of everything I did, that I was told as a norm a girl cannot and is not supposed to do and I did every single one of that thing. Next I will be proud of is when I will complete my private pilots training which has been taking long because of lack of enough savings!

10) What cause do you most want to advance?

Girl education in India and other developing/underdeveloped nations and inspiring and encouraging more Girls to get into STEM

11)  What song can’t you get out of your head? 

My all-time favorite “Dil Hai Chhotasa, Chhotisi asha, Masti Bhare Mann Ki Bholi Si Asha, Chaand Taaro Ko Chhune Ki Asha, Aasmano mein udne ki asha”

Which means, my heart is tiny, my desires are small, my funfilled minds simple sweet desires, to touch the moon and the stars, to fly amongst the skies. I even have a recorded version of this song in my voice that played on a bay area local hindi radio channel:

http://yourlisten.com/anima.patilsabale/animas-chaand- taaro-ko- chhune-ki- aasha#info

12) What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

My Dad’s quote “Be Silent And Act” stuck with me while growing up, when I would be treated differently because I was a girl and also when I would get criticized for saying I wanted to be a fighter pilot or an astronaut. I did stay silent and today with my work have silenced those critics from childhood days. And the biggest unspoken advise given by my parents was the cultural values they passed on to me that help me stay grounded while I continue to fulfill  all my duties and pursue my dream

13)  What is your “keep me going” quote?

Never Give Up! A Will Will Find A Way!

14) What is your secret indulgence? 

Hmm, come to think of it, I don’t have any!  But my best indulgence is listening to music. My favorites are the romantic Bollywood Numbers from the 70s 80s 90s era and recently hooked on to 99.7 FM that I was introduced to by our new teenage. That music has been growing on me and I really love some numbers!

15)  Who on the list of prior Honorees would you like to meet?

Everyone! And the founders of fortyover40. I think all the ladies and their work is amazing and I would like to meet and interact with them all.

Check out Anima Patil-Sabal’s full profile here!


Whitney Johnson
Whitney is the author of the acclaimed Dare, Dream, Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream. She has been named on numerous Smart Thinkers and People to Follow lists by major media such as Inc. Magazine, Business Insider and Huffington Post and is quoted in Wall Street Journal, CNN, Fast Company, Forbes and more.
Whitney Johnson

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