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Get to Know 2022 Swim Search Finalist Manju

The aspiring astronaut leads two non-profits while also pursuing an acting career.

Name: Manju 
Hometown: Corvallis, Ore.
Occupation: Physicist/Actor/Non-Profit Founder
Age: 24

Behind the scenes with Manju on set in the Dominican Republic. 

Behind the scenes with Manju on set in the Dominican Republic. 

“There still aren’t many Brown women in these spaces, so I wanted to not only represent my community as a South Indian woman, but I also wanted to remind the world that we never have to be just one thing. As someone who is pursuing her dream of becoming an astronaut, while also acting and leading two nonprofits, I hope I am inspiring women to take that leap of faith and pursue anything their heart dreams of, no matter what anyone else says.”

“Winning Swim Search would mean the world to me. It would mean that little girls around the world could continue to look at this platform and understand they can do and be anything they dream of. I’ve gotten hundreds of nos in my life, but it’s never stopped me from pursuing any of my careers. And if I do one thing in this life, I want it to be reminding young women that we are limitless. Failure never has to define us.”

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What has been the best part (so far) about being a part of The Swimfluence Network community?

“My new sisters! I really feel like I’m on cloud nine with how lucky I feel being surrounded by this group of intelligent, beautiful, fearless women.”

How did you prepare for the SI Swim Search photo shoot?

“I prepared by really getting my mind right. Starting off my day with intention and gratitude is something I really value, and with this opportunity, it became even more important to me. Also hydrating as much as possible!”

Who was the first person you told the good news to?

“My partner actually overheard the conversation as it was happening! We were both jumping up and down (and I was crying) by the end of the call.”

What is your favorite SI Swimsuit memory?

“Beyoncé on the cover! I must have been around 10 then, and I didn’t have the words for it yet, but I felt so empowered, like I could achieve anything I could ever dream of.”

What advice would you give to your younger self?

“First and foremost, you are enough. You are more than enough. And you are so loved. I know you feel left behind and I know you are hurting, but keep going. The end of that darkness is coming soon, and it is so beautiful on the other side.”

What change would you like to see in the world?

“I really want to see a radical shift in our collective vision for the future. In 2020, five years after I founded the organization, we came together at Operation Period to redefine what a world looks like where menstruation holds no one back and coined a new term: menstrual freedom. Right now, incarcerated menstruators in the U.S. often only get two pads per month, while unhoused menstruators have to resort to rags or toilet paper in lieu of products. It’s not enough to ensure menstruators have period products -- we need to address why they didn’t have them in the first place. We need to address things like incarceration, income and education inequities, sexism and transphobia. Because if we want menstruators to lead safe and healthy lives, we have to ensure they have access to basic necessities. And if we want them to dream, and dream big, we have to ensure they have opportunities to create and build. Otherwise, their talents will go unnoticed and their dreams will literally become impossible. We can reimagine what a better, more just world looks like together. Because it doesn’t have to be this way.”

Meet all of the 2022 Swim Search finalists here.