Careers in Mathematics – Rachael Kyalo’s Story

 

Rachael and I are both former students of AIMS Ghana. I however got to know her personally through LinkedIn after her contribution about the International Day of Mathematics was posted by AIMS Ghana. Here is our interview about her STEM journey:

It is nice to have you with us, Rachael!
Thank you, Winnie!

What is your full name?
My name is Rachael Katwa Kyalo

What is your current occupation?
I am a Research Analyst

Walk us through the journey of you becoming a Research Analyst
From a young age, I was a girl who loved numbers and calculations. I didn’t know where Mathematics would take me, because I was unaware of any careers in that field. I simply pursued it for fun! When I got a chance to attend university after high school, I went in to pursue a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science. I chose Computer Science because I had gained interest in computing while in high school. Other than that, I had no idea where that kind of course would take me. I couldn’t explain to anyone what my aspirations after the course were. I decided to check Google and found all these fancy titles for a come back in case anyone asked, haha…

Long story short, it was in my third year, after I had taken a number of Mathematics courses, that I got deep interest in Statistics. For my Bachelors degree research I took on the field of Mathematics (Statistics) and employed my computing and programming skills in R, STATA, SPSS and Excel. Now my eyes were open, I felt relevant, I could solve real world problems using my Mathematics and programming skills. I felt like my work in Mathematics was, and still is, actually very relevant . Everything I see around me has a real mathematical solution, and that is so beautiful.

What have you found challenging along this journey?
My biggest challenge was identifying what I really needed to do. Growing up, I didn’t hear people talk about STEM or any sort of careers in Mathematics, or maybe I was just ignorant! That has been the greatest challenge for me so far – discovering what I could do with Mathematics skills. Now I have taken root in STEM I would say, and I appreciate the initiatives to enlighten young girls and boys about the importance of studying Mathematics – its applicability in real life, that’s just very inspiring!

Have you received any awards or achievements? We would love to celebrate with you
I am very happy to have two publications; i. Using data mining techniques and R software to analyse crime data in Kenya ii. Flipping the script on rainfall data. I am proud to have attended the 2020 youth in data digital bootcamp which is usually very competitive. I am happy to have completed my masters degree in Mathematical Sciences at AIMS Ghana. And lastly, I am proud to have attended the ESMT-Industry Immersion Program (IIP) Berlin, which earned me a certificate in Business Management.

Who is Rachael outside work?
I interact with the young ones, I mean kids/babies. Babysitting is actually my favourite thing to do if you can believe me😊 I also enjoy playing indoor games like Table tennis and badminton and watching movies/TV.

Do you have a favourite quote?
‘its not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult’ ~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca.

What is your last word to young girls in STEM?
I want to tell the young people that there are careers in Mathematics. If the world is to be a better place, we need an army of Mathematical scientists. It is difficult yes, but not impossible. So if we choose to challenge ourselves, slowly we will be becoming.

Thank you very much Rachael for taking time to speak with me.

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