Jennifer is an expert in data science, with a deep understanding of statistical methods, machine learning algorithms, and programming languages such as Python or R. She can apply this knowledge to solve complex data problems. Today she talks to us about her contribution to this field;
Hello Jennifer, thank you for accepting to add your voice to this initiative. Kindly introduce yourself to our audience
I am Dr. Jennifer Batamuliza from Rwanda. Currently, I am the Head of Data-Driven Incubation Hub and Short Professional Courses at the African center of excellence in Data Science, University of Rwanda. I am also a Lecturer at the University of Rwanda, teaching IT courses to Undergraduate students and Master’s Students in Data Science.
Outside of lecture rooms, I am the Vice President of the Rwandan Association for Women in Science and Engineering (RAWISE). I am also the Founder and CEO of RWA TECH HUB an organization that trains and mentors girls in ICT. My other responsibility is being a Local Engagement Coordinator representing Rwanda in the TechGirls program, an Initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Before this, I was a Lecturer and the Head of the Software Engineering Department at the Adventist University of Central Africa (AUCA).
Wow, these are many hats you are wearing! It is an honor to know you.
I am curious to know what educational background or training you hold to become the renowned person in data science that you are
I hold a Ph.D. in Data Science with an option in Data Mining from the University of Rwanda, and a Master of engineering in computer science and technology from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China. My bachelor’s degree was in computer engineering and information technology, from the University of Rwanda as well. I am also a DASCA-certified senior big data analyst. My research focuses on big data analytics, machine learning, cyber security, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. I got a chance to attend the Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) for Young African Leaders at Arizona State University, U.S. where I did Leadership in Public Management. After this, I joined the University Partnership Exchange Program at the University of Nebraska, U.S.
Let’s talk about your background; as a child, did you ever imagine yourself working in the field of data science?
As a child, I had a dream of becoming an Engineer although my vision wasn’t clear at the time. I used to tell other children about my passion for science but they discouraged me! They believed that sciences were for boys. My parents, family, and the society around me also thought that sciences were for boys. I told them that I wanted to pursue sciences because that was something I was very passionate about. Against all odds, I decided to do science and worked so hard to prove everyone wrong. My hard work and faith in my ability to do anything a boy could do paid off! I succeeded throughout my journey.
While joining the university, I chose to study computer engineering and information technology. I succeeded, still owing that to my hard work and passion for what I was studying. Later I did a master’s in Computer science and technology and after I did a Ph.D. still in the same field.
You must have faced challenges as a woman breaking into the male-dominated field of data science! Tell us about that
I had many challenges throughout my journey but I tried by all means to overcome those challenges. Because of my country’s excellent leadership policies, I had many opportunities as a woman in data science. These overshadowed the challenges I faced.
What have been some of the most prestigious moments while on your career journey in data science?
I was awarded the Women Science Leadership Award 2022 by the National Council for Science and Technology (NCST) for promoting girls and women in Science and Technology. The money from this award was used to train 30 girls in computer networking skills and 40 girls in web programming.
I have won various international grants such as the Leveraging Innovations in New Communities (LINC) Grant that was used to train more than 85 girls and women online about Machine learning and Power BI. Another example is the Mandela Day Service Grant 2023 which will be used to train 30 girls about Web Programming and grants to conduct research in the technology field.
Congratulations, Jennifer, and thank you for all the good work you do for African women and girls in tech.
You run a very busy schedule, but, what do you enjoy doing in case you are out of the tech space?
I love spending my time with my family when I am not working.
What is your favorite quote?
“If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want” ~ Zig Ziglar
What is your word of encouragement for a young African girl who is interested in joining data science?
Girls should be passionate about what they study as passion drives them to thrive in the field. I assure them that hard work pays and nothing comes without trying. It is important to be confident, have a persistent spirit, and collaborate with others. I would also encourage them to manage well their time, set long-term goals, and work harder toward achieving those goals. Lastly, girls should have mentors who have achieved what they also want to achieve. These mentors will guide them throughout their career path.
Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your data science journey and experience with us. You have such an inspirational career! We look forward to learning more about your impact in Africa and beyond.