I got to know Anitah through LinkedIn. Her passion for Technology and Engineering is admirable, especially the way she uses it to make Africa a better place through young people.
Thank you so much for taking time to speak with me, Anitah!
Thank you Winnie, it is really a good job you are doing – thanks very much. I mean, if all these platforms were available when some of us were joining STEM, the perspective we had could have been different.
Kindly introduce yourself to the audience
My name is Annette Mwende from Nairobi, Kenya. I am a graduate of Economics and Statistics. This is my 3rd year in a fully STEM oriented field, specifically EdTech. I am all about programming. I can generally say that I am a STEMpreneur. I am currently the Founder and STEM Student Manager of Creptie School, a coding institution delivering intensive web development training programs. Our Programs are extremely practical, hands-on, and delivered by industry experts. Students learn through a series of immersive projects and real-world applications, supported expert talks, mentors, webinars and workshops. During the course, students learn the common core of web development and master basic foundations. Students also learn advanced concepts for back end and front end programming.
How did you join this world of STEM?
There’s nothing really interesting there, haha. I just went to normal schools – okay averagely good schools. I have been in both the bright-student and middle-student spheres all my academic life. This was confusing to me somehow because the times I was an A student, I felt like I knew this specific subject that I wanted to do. And then the times I was average or even below, I felt like I should just leave STEM alone! So, the confusion didn’t really allow me concentrate on grasping these STEM subjects correctly. All I knew is that I had a strong passion for Mathematics and Sciences in general.
At what point did you realise that you could pursue a career in STEM?
As I have mentioned before, I was strong in Mathematics all through my academic life. When joining university, my only Mathematics choices were Economics and Statistics, Actuarial Sciences, or Financial Engineering. Like most young African girls, I had no mentor to guide me into STEM or give me any career guidance. I weighed my options and decided to go for Economics and Statistics because the other two seemed hard for me. So I can’t say I really aimed to do Statistics from way back, no! You know there are some people who grow up knowing they will become Medical Doctors, Engineers, and other careers, but I wasn’t one of those. I only had some good history with Mathematics.
During in my 3rd year at university, I met a friend who introduced me to Technology. The good thing is that I was really open minded. I didn’t grow up as someone with a passion for Technology but this came in at a point when I was willing to try out different things. I did my research – something I am very good at – and realised I actually loved Tech. That’s how I joined this world
On your journey to pursuing a career in STEM, what are some of the challenges you have faced?
As a recent graduate, I can honestly say that more female students have taken on these STEM courses. So for us now, having more girls in class is not so much a challenge as before. We thank all programs that have pushed for this to happen.
The biggest challenge I faced was not making my course a strong hold in my future steps. Not that I didn’t enjoy it but it wasn’t the only thing on my mind at that time. You know that’s a time of self-discovery. So without proper mentorship you keep doubting yourself and your abilities to make a good future for yourself. Things like, “what if I concentrate on Economics more and Statistics turns out to be more lucrative!”. There were all sorts of confusion. So I ended up trying out a lot of things, doing gigs here and there – which is not a bad thing by the way. But not having something specific to concentrate on is also not a good thing for everyone. I did many gigs while at university; one day you would find me in marketing, the other day in customer care, modeling, …. all that, haha.
I completely understand the confusion you are talking about and would like to know how you overcame it.
I will attribute my victory through that to my creative nature. I figured out a way to benefit from what the school was offering as well as what was out there in the world. As a creative person, what was I going to engage in that would fully maximise my creative nature? Now this was another challenge because we don’t have many people, specifically women, doing creative work that I would look up to.
Please tell us about some of the prestigious moments during your journey in STEM
I got retained by a company for 2 years after an internship period in a field I had never studied in school – Technology. This was a very good opportunity for me because I wasn’t sure what this Economics and Statistics would do to me but I was already in the field. This was also an EdTech company so I learned a lot about pitching, student interactions, and management. I had to step up to the challenge and put myself out there even more in terms of professionalism.
I have been able to launch my own STEM school, called Creptie School in March 2021. This has been my greatest achievement so far.
What do you enjoy doing outside work?
I am an outdoor person, I love traveling and working out mainly. I also love binge-watching movies.
Do you have a favourite quote?
I can’t really say I have a quote, I go with, “just do it”, haha. This is because most of the decisions I have made in life have been impromptu. Someone comes to me with a gig or opportunity and before carrying out any research about it, I accept to take it on. This has taught me a lot and also given me a chance to learn on the game. So, if you get any opportunity, just go for it. Before my first internship, I was working as a sales girls at a fashion shop and I can tell you that the marketing skills I got from there have come in handy today.
How would you encourage a young girl who is struggling to fit into STEM?
As a STEM educator, I believe that STEM is different for everyone. I am saying this because STEM cuts across; for example, in the education sector we have the bright, not-so-bright students, and then the last group. So if you realise that you are the bright one, then get into solid STEM subjects. If you are in the middle, get into creative art and all that. The not so good ones in STEM can concentrate on things like project management. All these skills contribute to STEM in different ways. You just have to find your spot and use it to contribute to the STEM field you are passionate about. For the start, engage yourself in as many projects as possible, as you figure out what it is exactly you can do. There is something for everyone.
Thank you for speaking with me, Anitah! I greatly admire the work you do at Creptie. That’s a very much needed initiative you took on. I wish you the very best.