What is your educational background?
BSc Medical Physiology and MSc Medical Ultrasound
What is your current occupation?
Currently an MSc student in Medical Ultrasound. I am specifically studying echocardiography- i.e. using ultrasound to image and diagnose various heart conditions.
What or who got you into STEM?
It was a natural progression and my passions that led me to STEM. I have always had a genuine curiosity towards the human body. After being properly introduced to biology at 13, the subject really interested me. As my learning progressed, I fell in love with topics like genetics and anything that had to do with understanding disease. My passions for other STEM subjects like physics originated from me just overall loving to learn how things worked. Watching documentaries on TV aside from school was my only real exposure to STEM. I find it amazing at how things have changed in such a short span of time and more abstract topics are being conceptualised for wider audiences.
What is the biggest challenge/barrier you have faced as an African in STEM?
The lack of STEM based support in West Africa. If I was to fully pursue my STEM passions it would be hard to find employment back home as the necessary requirements are not yet in place. If there was better exposure to all areas of science, I would have most likely pursued a science-based route instead of being so fixated on medicine so early on.
How do you think your background/upbringing has been beneficial in your journey/career?
My background of having studied in both Sierra Leone and the UK has allowed me to fully appreciate developments in science. Studying in Sierra Leone taught me a lot of the foundations of my education and to work hard for what I want. The UK has brought forward several opportunities that would not have been possible and has taught me to think in a global sense. The access to opportunities from lab-based studies to science communication has helped mould what I think my future career would be once I start full employment. I have come to realise my dream career may have to be something I piece together myself or hopefully it will exist in the future. I would love to aid scientific/healthcare development within the continent alongside helping to grow the education system to one I would be proud to send my cousins or relatives to.
How do you think we can start to change the narrative surrounding African contributions
to global STEM research & careers?
This is already a great start. It would be beneficial to highlight what particular regions of Africa have strong research facilities. Highlighting the careers of Africans on the continent and beyond is important, but a greater emphasis needs to be place on those on the continent. Highlighting work that specifically aids AFRICANS!!!
What advice would you like to give to young, aspiring Africans in STEM?
If you want to work in your country of origin, start to get a feel of which areas of STEM are most developed so you get full support especially if they align with your interests. Use online resources where you can to connect to people doing things you want to do as the earlier you connect with what you want to do, the better.
Do you have any projects you’re working on that you would like us to highlight?
The Catalyst In Me (TCIM) blog started off as a hobby to fix a problem that I faced in undergrad of not knowing what I could do with my degree. It was a way for me to put the research I did out there for others in similar shoes to also benefit from. It has now grown to a place with a mixture of profiles from amazing people across the world alongside my personal journey in building my career within the science field. It now is a source of representation and I guess an idea starter for anyone thinking of a career within the life or healthcare science fields that is outside the realm of being a medical doctor. In the future I hope for TCIM to not only be an online resource but an in person one where like-minded people can meet and bounce future career plans of each other. The ultimate goal is to have roots in Sierra Leone and to help passionate kids make their crazy dreams within the sciences come true.