Virginia Tech graduating senior Natasha Chadha of McLean, Va., has concrete plans and big dreams for her future. 

Chadha, who will graduate with bachelor's degree in English with a minor in leadership and social change, says her goal is to become a high school English teacher, and her dream is to become a published author.

“I want to be able to write in a way where my words impact others. I want to write quotations that get stuck in other people’s minds, forcing them to think, reflect, and change,” Chadha said. “I have heard and read so many powerful passages that have helped guide me both in good and bad times. Therefore, I want to give back by doing the same. I want to inspire.”

Following the May 16 commencement ceremony, Chadha says she will pursue a master’s degree in the teaching of English at Columbia University's Teachers College. After than, she wants to teach high school, get a doctoral degree and teach at the college level, all while she pursues her true passion -- writing.

"Since I was nine, I have had a passion for reading, writing, and school,” Chadha said. “I was that nerd who couldn’t wait to get up in the morning and talk to my teachers. Growing up, that nerdiness turned into curiosity and thirst for knowledge. It’s what helped me form my dream of becoming a high school English teacher and published author."

It was an unexpected death in the family and her study abroad experience that Chadha says brought her to a new level of self-awareness. 

“It made me question my beliefs, challenge my opinions, and experiment with new perspectives and outlooks," she said. "Above all, it made me realize the importance of self-reflection.

“I knew I was determined to be a teacher and impact others," she continues. "I knew I wanted to become a published author and write the kind of novels people can’t stop reading. I knew I was scared that all of that was just a fantasy that wouldn’t come even close to being true. However, an unexpected death in my family made me realize that it isn’t about our goal. It isn’t about our dream. It’s about going through our lives knowing who we are, what we stand for, and not being afraid to show it. Moving forward, I not only want to be proud of who I am and what I believe in, but I want to instill this knowledge in others."

A University Honors student, Chadha is recipient of the Alfred E. Knobler and G. Burke Johnston scholarships, both of which stress a commitment to community and a love of learning. 

As a peer leader in the Residential Leadership Community, she helped freshmen transition to college life. 

She is co-president of the Golden Key International honor society, and a member of Phi Kappa Phi honors society, Sigma Tau Delta International English honors society, and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She is the recipient of the Leadership Pylon Award and was recently honored with an Aspire! Award from the Division of Student Affairs.

Her internships in high schools provided real-world experience in working students. Each Thursday, she bowls with special needs individuals through the Special Olympics program.

“Leadership is the desire and ability to help others reach a goal,” Chadha said. “It is a selfless act of not wanting to leave anyone behind by motivating everyone to reach the finish line. Leadership isn’t about how popular you are. It’s not about how much power you have. Instead, it’s about being passionate and helping others see that same passion by taking them there."

Written by Sandy Broughton.