As the world celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11), we are seizing the moment to profile an up and coming young woman in science who inspires hope for the next generation of leaders in STEM.
Meet Deborah Dormah Kanubala, AIMS Senegal (Co-op), AIMS Ghana (AMMI) alumna and Mastercard Foundation Scholar from Ghana.
Q: Tell us about your journey at AIMS.
Deborah: I completed my undergraduate studies at the University for Development Studies, Navrongo campus Ghana. There I pursued a BSc in Financial Mathematics degree and graduated in November 2016. I had a blend of campus experiences from getting into student politics to pageantry, which helped build my self-confidence and public speaking skills. However, they never took away my attention from wanting to pursue higher education. During the 4th year of my undergraduate studies, an AIMS Ghana representative came to talk to us about AIMS during one of our seminars. I was intrigued by her depiction of the 24/7 hour learning environment with support from tutors and visiting lecturers. After the meeting, I discussed with my then HOD, Dr Kwara Nantomah about my interest, and he encouraged me to apply. Honestly, knowing how competitive the program was, I sent in my application and just believed that God’s will would be done in my life. Fortunately for me, my application was successful, and I got admitted to AIMS Senegal. Immediately I arrived at the centre, serious work began so quickly! I had my high and low moments where things didn’t seem right. But with determination and focus, I kept holding on.
As students in the Co-operative Education program, we needed to undertake a six-month mandatory work placement. I got the opportunity to do mine with Manobi (a digital orchestration company). Before reallocating to Dakar, we had to find accommodation in the city. We could not even speak French! It was frustrating at that time, but the experience was necessary; this greatly improved my French et maintenant je parle un peu français!
Q: Tell us about the impact AIMS has had on you.
Deborah: I doubt if words can express the positive impact AIMS have had in my life not even mentioning the wide network it has afforded me. Before I enrolled at AIMS Senegal, I had issues giving scientific presentations, so I used to shy away. However, after the rigorous training and making lots of scientific presentations at AIMS, I got better with time. Now, I am confident with giving such presentations and have done a lot of them after AIMS.
I have not had the opportunity to share this particular experience with the AIMS alumni network, but I believe this interview would be a great way to share this. I am currently lecturing with Academic City University College in Accra Ghana. I feel very proud to say I landed this opportunity through my association with the AIMS Alumni network. Little did I know that I would have met my current employer during the AIMS Alumni Meet-Up in Ghana. I attended this meet-up with the sole idea of meeting other AIMS alumni from my country and getting to know how life has been for them after school. However, these alumni meet-ups presented me with more opportunities than that. I met my current employer there, which already explains the huge impact AIMS has had on me. Thank you once again!
Q. Which of the SDGs is most important/relevant to you? How do you plan on addressing it in your work?
Deborah: I am incredibly passionate about SGDs 4 and 5 (Quality education and Gender Equality). As the co-founder of Women Promoting Science to the Younger Generation (WPSYG), our sole aim is to get more young ones, especially women, into STEM. We do this through organising various technical skill training, STEM competitions, providing mentorships etc. We believe that through our contribution, we would be able to attain gender parity in STEM. Also, in my current role as a lecturer in one of the country’s outstanding private universities, I see it as my responsibility to help provide quality education to African students. In achieving this, the adopted medium of instruction is a blended approach that gives students theoretical and practical knowledge through their entire study period. I hope to be involved in producing leaders and problem-solvers for the continent. Additionally, in my role as the co-founder of WPSYG and co-organizer of Women in Machine Learning Accra chapter, I am contributing to igniting the interest of more women to pursue STEM and machine learning through outreach activities and technical training.
Q. What is your message to current AIMS students and young people across the continent?
Deborah: Never look at where you started your journey from, keep your eye on the prize and keep working hard. We all have different paths to success, and no two people are ever the same. Again, FOCUS!