You can be anything you want to be. Your possibilities are endless.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
I describe my work to others as someone who works behind the scenes to some of the things they see happening like policy change, medication changes and more in the human health field. My research involves malaria, so I always get the question of why drugs change every few years or why you should sleep under mosquito net. It’s the researcher who has worked in monitoring how drugs work and advise on required changes or invent better ways to help society with a certain health issue.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?
I have always loved science and in the beginning, I really wanted to be a doctor. When I was 10, I saw a young man dying on TV because of missing care and I wanted to be the one to help. In secondary school however in biology class I really loved genetics. So, after high school when I could not go to medical school, I choose a degree in biotechnology which was also my passion. I could not overcome my fear for blood and dead people so pursuing being a doctor was not an option. I also learned the many ways I can contribute and help the society which is my number one aspiration by doing biotechnology so the decision to become a research scientist. So I have definitely chosen the field and I enjoy what I do.
HOW DO/DID YOU TACKLE OBSTACLES?
In my journey to become a scientist, I did not face a lot of challenges. My family have always been supportive of whatever path I wanted to take in life. I was never told I should not do science. In primary school my favourite teacher Mr. Shirima told me I could be anything I wanted to be and from that day on I believed in that. My only wish is I had more role models growing up. My only inspiration was my desire to help people and a family that supports me, but I did not have anyone in particular to look up to - maybe because it was during the times when information was limited and there were not many women in science.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"
I wish my younger self had known about mentors and role models. I believe a lot of more girls would have chosen science if we had grown up being mentored about it and see women who were in the field. I had to navigate on my own and let my passion lead me but if I had a mentor, I am sure the road would have been easier. Growing up science only meant a doctor or an engineer, but I wish I knew about a lot of other fields that are not talked about. I am a research scientist, and this is somehow hard to explain sometimes so I wish young girls have an opportunity to lean different fields of science and realise their potential and the many beautiful things they can do.
WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?
I love working in STEM because there is always something new to discover. In research the trying and failing and trying again is both fun and frustrating at times. But for me the most important reward is seeing my work impacting lives and help better the society. Improving health and life and that motivate me to work up every morning and go to work.
BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?
You can be anything you want to be. Your possibilities are endless. Do not let anyone dim your light or tell you that there is something you can’t achieve.
Find your passion, find a mentor and go fearless in the direction of your dreams. The road won’t be easy I know, but go out and prove anyone who think STEM is not for girls wrong.