From Nairobi, Kenya, to Espirito Santo, Brazil, this edition of the #AlumoftheWeek captures the journey of Mastercard Foundation Scholar Eunice Monyenye Omwoyo of AIMS Senegal ’19.
Q: Tell us about your journey before AIMS.
Eunice: Before joining AIMS, I took my undergraduate studies at the University of Nairobi (UoN), earning a Bachelor of Education Science (Mathematics and Physics). It was during my time at UoN that a friend told me about AIMS. Learning about AIMS was more of a wake-up call because I had this dream of furthering my studies and had no idea how I could navigate through. I often visited the AIMS website, and it stated how they needed candidates with a solid mathematics background. This requirement pushed me to register for extra units in mathematical courses every semester. At this point in my journey, I can say the sacrifice was worth it. Essentially, I spent a better part of my undergraduate studies dreaming of joining AIMS. Immediately after my graduation, I applied to AIMS, and I’m glad I was successful on my first attempt.
Q: How would you describe your time at AIMS?
Eunice: AIMS felt like home, though far away from home. When I joined AIMS, I spent the first month torn between Co-op and Regular Master’s. I thank Prof. Frank Kalala Mutombo and Dr. Cheikh Ndao for understanding, advising, and guiding me. Despite the program being so intense, the tutors and professors were very supportive and understanding. Academically, AIMS took me to a whole new level of thinking and doing things. Socially, I made very great friends at AIMS; we still talk and encourage each other.
Q: Tell us about the impact AIMS has had on you.
Eunice: I left AIMS as an all-round student. The programming skills in Python, R, and specialized computational software such as Matlab and Singular (a computer algebra system that we learned in Algebraic Geometry) have all been of so much help to me in my PhD research.
Despite being a science Centre, emphasis was also given to soft skills such as communication skills, preparing well-structured CVs, writing a statement of purpose relevant to the type of opportunities we seek and cover letters. I also gained time management skills, and now when I say I can work well under pressure, I mean it.
Q: What would you describe as your post-AIMS success story?
Eunice: Beginning my PhD has been a success for me. At the research phase in AIMS, my research work was supervised by Prof. Marc Casals, who was there earlier in the year to teach General Relativity. He was the one who actually encouraged me to apply for my PhD and is currently my supervisor. I made my PhD application while at AIMS; Marc and the tutors guided me in my application/interview, and I’m glad that I received the scholarship before my AIMS graduation. I will always owe my PhD journey to Marc and consequently to AIMS.
Q: Which of the SDGs is most important/relevant to you? How do you plan on addressing it in your work?
Eunice: Gender Equality and Quality Education are my most important SDGs. Quality education entails access to quality learning material and a conducive learning environment. I have been a United Nations Volunteer under the Rumie Initiative. In this task, I found quality open-sourced digital learning material and shared it with the Rumie Initiative. It felt nice to have contributed to quality education for a child somewhere in the world. I also taught in several schools during my undergraduate studies. It’s always a great joy to see students getting the best out of an educational system because the quality of a society lies in the quality of its educational system.
In addition, I am a member of the East African Network of Women in Basic Sciences. The goal of this group is to mentor girls to pursue Mathematics and Physics. We believe that science is for all. I am also a mentee at the Supernova Foundation, where I look forward to mentoring and inspiring other young girls.
Q: What is your message to current AIMS students and young people across the continent?
Eunice: The time at AIMS is too short to be shy; hence, immerse yourself in every opportunity; if you get it, you win; if you lose, you learn.