Female STEM Educator – Ms. Regina Esi Turkson

What would we do without teachers and lecturers in our systems? Here is a female educator, telling us about her journey as an African in STEM education;

Hi Regina. It’s wonderful to have you with us today! Thank you for accepting to be part of this cause
Thank you for having me. I must say that I was impressed with what you are doing and am happy to share my story too.

I am excited to learn more about you. Please give us a brief introduction
I’m Ms. Regina Esi Turkson (Ph.D.) (Mrs. Regina Esi Segbefia). I chose to write the two names because in academia I’m known by my maiden name, Turkson. So basically, both names hold for me. Currently, I’m lecturing at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Ghana.

Please give us a brief history about how you became an educator; was it something you liked since childhood?
I had my basic education at Nana Brempong Yaw Complex School in Effia-Kuma, Takoradi, Ghana. From there, I went to Archbishop Porter Girls’ Senior High School in Takoradi for my secondary education. I gained admission to UCC to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology. After graduation, I did my national service at the Department of Computer Science and IT, UCC, and was later appointed as a Research Assistant.

My passion for impacting knowledge became greater as I saw myself transferring knowledge to others. As my love for teaching grew, I decided to pursue further studies to fully meet the teaching requirements of the university.

By the grace of God, I had admission with a full scholarship to pursue my master’s in Computer Science and Technology at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC). After my master’s, I became the second-best outstanding international master’s student for the 2016/2017 academic year. Due to this great achievement, my university awarded me a full scholarship to pursue my Ph.D. in Computer Science and Technology. I graduated with my Ph.D. in December 2021 and returned to my post at UCC.

For research, I have always been interested in computer security so, during my masters, I did my research focusing on security. Before starting my Ph.D., I found out that Artificial Intelligence (AI) was gaining a lot of popularity in the spheres of computer science. I did a lot of reading and finally settled for AI as my research area, I must say it was a challenging but interesting experience. My Ph.D. dissertation was in a very new research area, known as Spiking Neural Networks (SNN). I have been able to publish a couple of papers in high-indexed journals and conferences.

My research interest is in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Computer Security. I intend to focus more on security in AI as my future research dimension. Finding myself in the field of computer science is enough motivation to work even harder because there are few females in the field. I decided to burn the midnight candle to attain a higher height in life and by the grace of God, I have made headway. I’m glad I chose this path because a lot of girls look up to me now and I have the opportunity to mentor them as well.

It’s such a selfless act to live life while thinking about ways you can help other people. Thank you for that.

Let’s talk about some of the challenges you have faced while on your STEM journey
Well, growing up in an average family and seeing how my parents struggled to provide the best for us financially, especially in our education, I couldn’t disappoint them. I purposed in my heart to study hard and to make them proud.

The financial challenges didn’t deter me from becoming the version of myself I have always desired to be. God made a way and I didn’t struggle much with financing my master’s and Ph.D. because it was thoroughly funded through a scholarship scheme. Also, I saw all challenges that came my way as a stepping stone to greatness and this has molded my personality.

I understand the desire to do better inspires you every day; is there anything else about your motivation?
Growing up, I always desired to be a “great” person. Someone that people will look up to, someone who will inspire the younger generation, especially girls. That has always been my inspiration. Getting myself in this area of STEM was a great opportunity since computer science generally is a male-dominated field. Being a female and finding myself in this area, really encourages me to work even harder.

Tell us about your achievements, awards, and moments of recognition
I was the second-best outstanding international master’s student in the 2017 batch of master’s students in the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC), so I was given a full scholarship to pursue my PhD. in Computer Science and Technology.

I obtained the First Price for Academic Achievements Awards for the 2017/2018 academic year for outstanding performance in academics and research and also the First Price for Academic Achievements Awards for the 2015/2016 academic year for outstanding performance in academics and research, UESTC.

The Third Price for Excellence Performance Award, 2015/2016 academic year, UESTC. Also, I had a GPA of 3.9/4.0 for my master’s and 4.0/4.0 for my Ph.D.

Wow, a 4/4 for a Ph.D.! That’s amazing – congratulations!

We would like to know who you are if you are not in the office
I love to try new recipes, listen to music, participate in church activities and hang out with my husband and kid.

What is your favorite quote?
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6).

What would you say to a young African girl who is passionate about STEM?
Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. It is better to take up an opportunity and fail than not take it up and regretting later. Believe in yourself, focus and trust that you can do all things through Yahweh who strengthens you.

Thank you very much, Regina, for letting us into your world. It’s wonderful to speak with a female educator who believes that women have a place in STEM. May your work be blessed.

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