Sophia Paul doesn’t want to be a princess. She wants to be more.
Sophia is passionate about inspiring more girls to enter STEM fields and has reinvented a princess to do just that. She chose to rewrite the story of Rapunzel, called Rampunzel, to teach girls that they can pursue their dreams without waiting for a knight on a white horse to save them. In Sophia’s story, the creative heroine builds a robot to free herself from captivity. Sophia has read and donated the book at local elementary schools and libraries and has plans to translate it to languages other than English.
In addition to writing about robotics, Sophia also excels at them. After being relegated to secretarial roles on a primarily male robotics team, Sophia started an all-female robotics team, which beat the co-ed team and qualified for the state championship as a rookie team in the 2015-16 school year.
Amazingly, Sophia also donates of her time and was awarded a presidential bronze medal for community service in April 2016.
We had a chance to ask Sophia a few questions. Something tells us this amazing girl is just getting started!
“Keep pushing no matter how many people/obstacles get in your way from achieving success.” – Sophia Paul
Q & A
Q: What do you want to be when you grow up and why?
A: I want to be a materials scientist because I know there is an environmentally friendly way to make plastic.
Q: What do people say when you tell them that?
A: Most of my teachers are very encouraging and help me achieve higher levels. I sometimes get a sarcastic “good luck with that” from my classmates.
Q: Do people ever call you “princess” and, if so, how does that make you feel?
A: I’ve seldom been called princess, but I don’t enjoy it much because many people imagine the princess as a submissive girl waiting for a prince to sweep her off her feet, and that is not like me at all.
Q: How did you decide to reinvent the story of Rapunzel?
A: I was at my robotics team practice, and we were talking about ways we could inspire young girls to enjoy STEM. We came up with the idea to write a picture book about a girl who built a robot. We decided to twist the princess and invent the only princess who is an engineer. We chose to invent Rampunzel (derived from the MICDS rams) and tell her story. We still wanted to have a princess be the main character because we wanted to re-invent what it means to be one.
Q: Do your family and friends support you?
Q: Did you ever think you’d be called an “amazing girl” for choosing to do this?
Q: What three words would you like people to use to describe you?
A: Super creative engineer
Q: What do you want people to know about you outside of your accomplishments, including recently receiving a presidential bronze medal for community service?
A: About a year ago (April 26, 2015), my coach and I finalized plans for an all-girls robotics team. I was also surprised to be nominated as captain by my teammates. We beat the co-ed team and qualified for the state championship as a rookie team in the 2015-16 school year.
I also have a life outside of robotics. It is possible.
Q: What motivates you?
A: The lack of women in engineering jobs and the quick loss of petroleum in the environment. Also: college, my robotics team, and other inspiring women in STEM.
Q: If you could have ice cream with one person, whom would it be?
A: Mayim Bialik! Not only is she a great actress, but she is also a neurobiologist and an overall inspirational person. I really enjoy reading Grok Nation, her blog.
Q: What advice would you give to a girl who wants to be just like you?
A: If people aren’t telling you that you’re crazy, your dreams aren’t big enough. Also, keep pushing no matter how many people/obstacles get in your way from achieving success.
Bonus Question: What question would you ask the next Amazing Girl we interview?
A: What does it mean to you to be a princess?
- Her favorite app is Neko Atsume Cat collector.
- Sophia is most looking forward to going back to her job as
a camp counselor this summer.
- Her favorite song is “Confident” by Demi Lovato.
- Sophia’s favorite sports team is the Boston Red Sox.
- Her favorite subject in school is chemistry.