The Extraordinary Journey of Ananya Cleetus

She is exactly the kind of child every parent dreams of. But will she reach the rightful position at the top?

Updated27 Apr 2015, 05:35 AM IST
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3 min read

Ananya Cleetus is the kind of child immigrant parents dream about. By age 18, she has amassed a whole bunch of impressive achievements which include meeting President Barack Obama at the White House.

Let’s go down the list.

- When she was 14, she visited the Jaipur Foot manufacturing facility in New Delhi, where her grandparents lived. She met a man whose leg was crushed in an accident but he wanted to get back to work. So Cleetus designed and computer-tested a lightweight prosthetic leg for low-income people in India with below-knee amputations.

- At 17, she conceptualised and 3-D printed a robotic prosthetic hand for patients suffering from leprosy. This was the project she took to the White House for the Science Fair.

She was the only exhibitor from Pennsylvania and she was nominated by the National Center for Women & Information Technology, which also selected her as one of the organisation’s 35 Award for Aspirations in Computing winners from across the country.

When I heard I was going to meet President Obama I screamed for two minutes straight and when I met him, I was star struck. It was the most incredible experience of my life.
– Ananya Cleetus, CEO of Magikstra

- Last year, the City of Pittsburgh proclaimed October 5th, the Ananya Cleetus Day to acknowledge all her achievements.

- A high school senior, she is the CEO of Magikstra a new social media network which will help teens all over the world to connect with mentors in academia and the industry.

- Magikstra is in beta testing at five universities outside Pittsburgh, and Cleetus won the Start-up Entrepreneur Award in the 19th annual Carnegie Science Awards. She will be among the youngest at the May 8 ceremony where she will accept one of the 17 science and technology honors.

“So no teen will have to go at a difficult project alone, like I did,” she says.

The secret of Cleetus’s success?

“I really like and enjoy what I do. I like to combine my love for engineering with my wish to help my community,” she said.

Who is Ananya Cleetus?

Ananya Cleetus with her father Francis, mother Maneesha and sister Antara. 
Ananya Cleetus with her father Francis, mother Maneesha and sister Antara. 

Cleetus was born in New Delhi, lived in Hong Kong and now lives in Pittsburgh, Pennyslvania. Her father Francis is an advertising creative director her mother Maneesha works at the township library and her sister Antara, 12, is an award-winning artist.

Everyone around me is right-brained but I was just interested in science. My family didn’t understand what I was working on but they always encouraged me.
– Ananya Cleetus, CEO of Magikstra

As a child, Cleetus played with Legos, took things apart in the kitchen and was glued to science shows. Cleetus is going to do a double major in engineering and computer science with a focus on robotics research but she has not picked a college yet.

Her parents are very proud of her but are deeply worried about the cost of college. Ananya is currently seeking possible sponsorships to assist with tuition and other costs.

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Published: 24 Apr 2015, 12:25 PM IST
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