I got to know Diana through a mutual friend called Grace Mukunzi Luwemba, who spoke highly of Diana’s achievements in the STEM field. Getting to know her personally, I learnt more about her inspiring story for young girls who want to join the Engineering field. Take a read;
Hi Diana, thank you for joining us today. How are you doing?
I am fine, Winnie! Thank you for inviting me. I read through the blog and it has very interesting stories on there, well done! I am happy to add my voice.
Thank you very much, we are delighted to have you here.
Kindly introduce yourself to the audience please
My name is Eng. Keesiga Diana from Uganda. I am the Director Engineering and Construction at the 5-Year USAID funded Uganda Sanitation for Health Activity (USHA) implemented by Tetra Tech ARD. I am also the Vice chairperson of Uganda Institution of Professional Engineers – Kampala Chapter (2020-2022). I also chair a SACCO of alumni from my primary school.
Please tell us a little bit about your history; how did you become an Engineer?
I was born in Kanungu District to Rev Canon David Keesiga and Mrs. Anne Keesiga. I am the fourth of five children. My parents, despite their meagre incomes, took all of us five to good schools. For my high school, I was in Bweranyangi for O’level and Gayaza High school for A’level. I made it to Makerere University for my Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering on government sponsorship back in 2008. Graduation in 2013 happened when I already had my first job with Water for People as a Water and Sanitation Engineer. Here I supported extension of water and sanitation services to populations in rural Kamwenge. Seeing the intended beneficiaries of the projects I am involved in enjoy and own the service we are providing brings me a lot of joy!
I then moved to the UK to do my Master of Science in Water and Waste Engineering from Loughborough University, and graduated in 2017 with a distinction. In 2018, I moved on to USHA as a Senior WASH Operations Manager and later got promoted to Director in 2020. Now with USHA, I get to do this in not one district but 20 districts spread across three regions in Uganda – Buganda, Busoga and Acholi.
I must mention that am happily married to Eng. Godfrey Hashakimana and together we have 2 boys David Van Shaka (5 years) and Elisha Ashaka (3 years).
What have you found challenging along this journey called life?
Life is what you make it. Does that sound cliche? Maybe. But it is. As I grew up, I saw my parents work hard to take us to school. We sometimes worked alongside them especially my mother, tilling that soil, harvesting different types of crops and selling them off to get school fees top-ups and pocket money. I say top-ups because I got a number of bursaries in school for good performance so I usually didn’t have to pay full tuition. And that taught me one thing, if you work hard at it, you’ll become good at it. You will succeed. All challenges are meant to sharpen your focus, make you stronger, never to deter you from your goal. And I live with that every day.
What inspires you to keep moving each day?
I have had mentors as I moved through all stages of life. My parents started off, my teachers in school starting in Primary school (teacher Patrick, can’t forget how he would always tell me, your are good at this. Keep on going!). High school (teacher Yesimire – congratulations Diana! Let’s make sure we cash that bursary and top up your tuition. He knew I always had issues with school fees and helped me with the administration), University ( Dr. Eng Albert Rugumayo (RIP), Dr Sam Kayaga) and when I started work, I met Cate Nimanya. The lady that kick-started my work career and introduced me to the path that has enabled me to meet everyone else that I know now!. Plus many other mentors; mentorship is a must, you need to look up to someone for guidance.
What do you enjoy doing outside work?
I love spending time with my family – my husband and our two handsome boys; they mean a lot to me!
I love travelling, it makes me see life in a different perspective, makes me appreciate what I have more, and gives me plenty of ideas. I love reading books of all sorts; I am currently reading “Outliers, Malcom Gladwell”. A great book in my opinion, gives an interesting perspective to success in life.
Tell us about your prestigious achievements & awards
I’ve received some awards not sure I should mention them though. Girls need to know that with or without the awards, we are still great, we are conquerors and can be as good as anyone. We can top the world!
What is your favourite quote?
“With God, all things are possible.” ~ Jimmy Mastronardo
What is your word of encouragement for a young girl in STEM?
Never give up. There’s hardly anything on earth that has not been tried. Everything keeps evolving. Get a mentor to help you through a hard or new situation you may be going through. No one successful ever made it alone. They all had someone alongside them, to help them, to support them. There are many people out there waiting for you to ask them for help. So go for it!
Thank you very much Diana, for representing Ugandan women on such a high level in STEM. I am honoured to write about you and greatly appreciate the time you have taken to be a part of this initiative. Thank you once again.