Rose-Mary was the first female to obtain a Ph.D. in Computer Science at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), in Ghana. Today, we learn more about her journey as an African woman in STEM;
Hi Rose-Mary, thank you for accepting to be part of this project. I am honoured to have you join us today.
Hi Winnie, thank you for inviting me. I think you are doing a very good job! I am happy to have my story featured.
Thank you! Please introduce yourself to the audience
My name is Rose-Mary Owusuaa Mensah Gyening from Ghana. I am a Lecturer at the Department of Computer Science, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana.
Briefly walk us through this journey of becoming a Computer Scientist
I am from a family of 10. I had my basic education from Infant Jesus Lumen Christi school in Kumasi. From there, I proceeded to St. Louis Senior High School to pursue secondary education. I then came to KNUST for a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science where I graduated as the overall best student in the department for that year group.
I did my National Service as a teaching assistant at the same department, after which I went to the University of Bonn in Germany to pursue my master’s in Computer Science. On my return to Ghana, I worked as a Lecturer at Garden City University College, teaching many Computer Science related courses from 2016 to July 2020. Around August 2020, I was appointed as an Assistant Lecturer at the Department of Computer Science, KNUST.
In February 2021, I got a new appointment as a Lecturer in the same department. That’s where I am currently. My research focuses on artificial intelligence. Currently, I am working on assistive technologies, machine learning, and IoT-based projects.
I come from an average family, so, growing up, I saw how my parents did all they could to provide the best for us. I was inspired and knew that I didn’t have to let their suffering be in vain! So right from my basic education, I decided to learn hard and be the best in my field.
When I got to the university, I realized that Computer Science was largely male-dominated. During my year, we didn’t have any female lecturers. That inspired me to make a change in that area and pushed me to work harder. I am very happy because a lot of girls in tech have been inspired by my story and I continue to mentor a lot of males and females in technology from different parts of Africa.
As you worked hard to break these barriers, what challenges did you face?
There have been a lot of challenges along the way! I however try to use those challenges as opportunities to make a change so that the person after me doesn’t go through the same. My biggest challenge was financial but God made a way. Here I am today!
There were also instances I got to places that made me feel uneasy because the people I met were far advanced! Again, I used such situations to my advantage and learned from these people. This has helped me become the best version of myself. I am not there yet, but I get better each day.
What are some of your achievements along this journey? We would love to celebrate with you
Currently, I am the first female to graduate with a Ph.D. in Computer Science from KNUST in Ghana. I am still the only female to have completed the program. As I mentioned earlier, I was the overall best graduating student in my department in 2012. There are other awards I received during my bachelors’ program which were related to my good performance. The ones I have mentioned are the most outstanding.
What is your favourite quote?
My favourite quote is a Bible verse; Isaiah 60:22. “When the time is right, I the Lord will make it happen”.
Who is Rose-Mary outside work?
Outside work hours I like to listen to music, watch movies, cook and catch up with my friends who I haven’t seen in a while.
What is your word of encouragement for a young African girl who is passionate about STEM but is struggling to find her place?
Dear African girl, there’s a time and season for everything. There’s no need to rush in life! Take your time and develop a plan and timeline for whatever you want to do. Set realistic goals and evaluate them, when necessary, adjust them. Be happy for other peoples’ successes and through that, God will bless you. There’s no need to be envious of other people! Lastly, always try to be the best version of yourself.
Thank you, Rose-Mary, and huge congratulations on your great achievement. That’s something that will always be written in history; it will never change. Thank you for accepting to be our guest today, and I look forward to more interactions.