What is your educational background?
I have completed a Bachelor’s degree in Biopharmaceutical Science from the University of Ottawa and a Master’s degree in Chemistry at Dalhousie University. I am currently completing my doctorate degree in chemistry at the University of Ottawa.
What is your current occupation?
Graduate student studying organic chemistry. My research project is focused on the synthesis and evaluation of organic small molecules to act as cryo-additives during the cryopreservation of different cell types. Cryopreservation is the process of preserving living things under very low temperatures, however, at those low temperatures ice crystals form and grow which can result in cellular damage. The small molecules that we are synthesizing will prevent the cellular damage caused by ice.
What or who got you into STEM?
Growing up my older sister’s dream was to become a doctor, so she went down the path of science and I guess I just followed. I also remember always being fascinated with science from high school and I ended up developing a curiosity about chemistry, which has continued up until now.
What is the biggest challenge/barrier you have faced as an African in STEM?
Trying to prove that I am smart and qualified enough to be in the position I am in. I feel like I constantly have to prove myself and ignore the ones that look down on me or question my intelligence. Also, I find it quite challenging to not have many people that I can relate to and that look like me, and that go through similar trials as me as a woman of colour.
How do you think your background/upbringing has been beneficial in your journey/career?
From the time I was little my parents always instilled a good work ethic in me which is what I have held on to until now. Also, I was brought up in a Christian household, so God has always been a major part of my life. This has helped me not to stress too much and to just trust in Him when things get challenging.
How do you think we can start to change the narrative surrounding African contributions
to global STEM research & careers?
I think visibility would be great. Promoting women of colour to go into STEM fields and offering help and mentorship programs would be beneficial. I also think providing a community for Africans in STEM to unite would be very useful since there is power in numbers. This is why I think Visibility STEM Africa is a great initiative.
What advice would you like to give to young, aspiring Africans in STEM?
Follow your dream and don’t stop working toward your passion no matter how hard it gets. Once you reach your goals, it’s the most fulfilling feeling ever.