Meet Haritha Malladi!
Preparing Future Leaders (PFL) is a premier leadership community that exemplifies creative engagement, reflective practice, and multidisciplinary collaboration. The PFL leadership teams delivers evidence-based programming in mentoring, scholarship, teaching, professional development, and personal development. Since 2007, PFL team members have offered more than 500 professional development events for more than 15,000 graduate students, and PFL has become a nationally recognized model for enhancing graduate student success.
The PFL Ambassadors includes a group of ten graduate students from different disciplines who have been invited to represent PFL, connect with other graduate students, and enhance their own leadership skills. Through the Ambassadors program, they will be able to develop advanced leadership and communication skill and expand on the knowledge they have already gained by participating in PFL events and programs.
Even before becoming a PFL Ambassador, Haritha Malladi reports being a “self-appointed PR agent” for PFL. Her involvement with the organization began during graduate school orientation when she signed up for one PFL seminar to “break the tedium of classes and the stress of being an international student in a very different educational environment.” She quickly became a “frequent flyer” at PFL seminars where she learned to e-mail with confidence, manage her thesis, guard herself against performing plagiarism, correctly button a 3-button blazer, communicate science effectively, understand cultural differences in the U.S. classroom, and teach effectively. She soon became involved in the PFL Advisory Board, where she got the opportunity to contribute and make the program even stronger.
Haritha has also benefited from PFL’s various certificate programs. Through the Graduate Leadership Development Series (GLDS), she honed her leadership skills; through the Certificate of Career Development, she worked on a personal project for professional development; and through the trailblazing Featuring Scientists and Engineers in the Writing Classroom (FSEWC) program, she gained her first college-level teaching experience.
With all of her positive firsthand PFL experience, Haritha explains, “I was honored to be amongst the first batch of PFL Ambassadors.” She is now working to increase the awareness of PFL on campus, “spreading [her] dogma of professional development to every student she [encounters].” She looks forward to her continued association with PFL over the next couple of years she will be at NC State, particularly as a Preparing the Professoriate (PTP) fellow preparing herself for a career in academia.
From an early age, Haritha knew she wanted to be an engineer, following in the footsteps of her father who worked as a scientist for the Indian Space Research Organization, the “NASA of India.” From his influence, Haritha developed a keen interest in all of the STEM fields as a child. When the time came to choose her undergraduate major, she initially wanted to study mechanical engineering, but because engineering is so competitive in India, students were given very little flexibility in choosing a major, and Haritha was ultimately placed in civil engineering at the National Institute of Technology in Warangal, India. Fortunately, “one semester into college and [she] fell in love with civil engineering.” She now says that to her “civil engineering stands for human achievement in the way we have shaped the earth.”
During her undergraduate career, Haritha worked on many research projects, including one at RWTH University in Aachen, Germany. After that experience, she knew she wanted the experience of studying abroad, and she knew the value of a degree from the United States. These realizations, along with NC State’s excellent research in asphalt and bituminous materials, a field Haritha was already studying, drew her to apply to NC State. When she was offered acceptance and a research assistantship to work on a North Carolina Department of Transportation project, her decision was settled.
NC State has given Haritha the opportunity to meld her passion for civil engineering with her passion for sustainability, two fields that are often at odds with each other. Her research involves making pavements more sustainable and reducing their carbon footprint by recycling asphalt pavement material and by reducing their production temperature.
Beyond her love of her research, Haritha finds life in the Triangle in itself very fulfilling. “It reminds me of home in so many ways,” she says, and “whatever interest you have, you will always find some way to pursue it this this very diverse atmosphere.” The only one unexciting part of getting a PhD, she explains, is “having to live in one place for so many years…when you have wanderlust like I do.” Fortunately, now that she has a car, Haritha can travel whenever she gets the chance, and her “wanderlust is well satisfied.”
Outside of her schoolwork, Haritha is a self-proclaimed “huge bibliophile,” making DH Hill and Hunt Libraries her “absolute favorite places on campus.” When she can’t make it to the library, she has her own mini library at home, which she credits to the annual Friends of the Library book sale. She also loves music, a hobby she pursues playing an Indian classical string instrument called the “veena” in an amateur classical music band with other graduate students at NCSU. In addition to these pursuits, Haritha is also working on starting a YouTube science and education channel alongside some other NC State graduate students.
Click here to view archived Graduate School stories.