University of Eldoret fifth year Civil and Structural engineering student Stella Muthungu, received Anita Borg scholarship to attend Grace Hopper Celebration that took place on 24 - 29th September, 2018 in Houston Texas. She received an invite and awarded a scholarship by the Anita Borg Institute to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women in Computing and Technology conference.
At the conference, Women in computing from around the world gathered at GHC to network, find or be mentors, create collaborative proposals, and increase the visibility of women’s contributions to computing. Leaders from industry, academia and government presented their work while special sessions focus on the role of women in today's technology fields.
Muthungu applied for the scholarship at the beginning of this year and got shortlisted. To be awarded a scholarship, a student scholar should be active in their community, including being involved with campus computing and STEM clubs and working towards the advancement of women in computing. In 2016, she was privileged to be part of the 2016 Women in Engineering (WomengKe) fellowship where she had a transformative experience. This is where she was inspired to give back to girls in her community. Muthungu and her friends from school of engineering, after realizing how few they were compared to their male counterparts, founded Wahandisi La Femme. WLF is a STEM outreach club in the University of Eldoret. Wahandisi LaFemme has a target of having 4 outreaches in different high schools every semester. It also aims to impact the high school teachers who will encourage more girls to pursue STEM courses.
In 2017 she received Working in Advancing African Women (WAAW) foundation scholarship that has been paying her tuition fees since then. WAAW is a program that supports African women in STEM. She knew about Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) from her mentor Dr. Unoma Okarafor, the founder and CEO of WAAW Foundation who sent her the application link. “Attending Grace Hopper Celebration was an amazing experience. Over 20, 000 women from all over the world gathered in Houston to celebrate the milestones being constantly made by women in STEM and computing. Interacting with all these women who shared their experiences and realizing that there is a huge support system was refreshing. I returned to school feeling inspired and re-energized to push the girls stem outreach agenda. I am looking forward to make amazing things happen and share what I learnt from the conference” says Muthungu
Miss Muthungu will use the knowledge obtained to organize the STEM outreaches that will have more impact. She occasionally volunteers in a STEM school called Karibu Centre that partners with the local schools to provide 300 youth with interactive after-school activities involving STEM. Since the kids in this school interact with computers, robotics, interactive technology, and coding on a daily basis, she will continue to volunteer in order to train them more with the knowledge obtained from GHC academic workshops. Stella interacted with Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code based in San Francisco, an organization that focuses on providing technology education for African-American girls. She is looking forward to corporate partnership between Black Girls Code and Wahandisi La Femme in order to provide technology education to girls in Kenya.
While in the states, courtesy of Kenya Connection Kids (a non-profit Christian ministry), she had a tour to Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia. Georgia Tech is highly regarded internationally for its excellent engineering programs. She had an informational interview with Dr. Kim Kurtis, Professor, School of Engineering Dean for Faculty Development and Scholarship, College of Engineering. She also visited Cobb County Water Treatment Plant to learn more about water treatment since that will be her focus in her final year project.
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