Rufaro and I connected on LinkedIn after a post about her from Tea in 60 appeared on my timeline. Here is is our interview about her STEM experience:
Hi Rufaro, thank you for accepting to do this with me.
Hi Winnie, thank you for reaching out.
What is your full name?
My name is Rufaro Ruzengwe. Rufaro means Happiness, so you already know its all joy over here 🙂
What do you do currently?
I love this question, Rufaro is a multi-faceted lady lol. I am an Industrial and Manufacturing Engineer by profession. This takes the bulk of my time as I work for a top worldwide mining and engineering firm with its main operations in Zimbabwe’s biggest platinum mine.
I am a product designer, I love working on designing and simulations of mechanical parts and systems. So this takes to varied industries like the construction and manufacturing industry.
I am also the Mentorship Coordinator for Tea in 60, a social organisation that aims to take young ladies in all STEM fields to the next level by creating spaces for them to meet amazing and go-getter females in industry. This has been a pleasure to be a part of and the strides we take are humbling.
I also love animal rearing. My main focus being on poultry (varied breeds of chickens, ducks) and rabbits. The impact of creating sustainable projects for the small and medium sector in our country is powerful.
How did you become an Engineer?
Okay! I am the middle child (I love J Cole for this!) and I am flanked by an amazing big bro who is a Finance Guru and a younger sister who is a Geologist in the making. So you can see there is so much diversity in our family haha. My parents have always been supportive of our talents from a young age and I guess that drew me closer to my dad as I was amazing at Mathematics and Science! We bonded over fabrication and making structures. I was a high performing student from primary to high school. I finished my O and A levels at Regina Mundi High School where I got my fair share of intellectual and physical exercise (shout out to Sr. Jangara!) I loved drawing, numbers and solving real life problems so much that we started making our cages and chicken coops from home with my dad. So when it came to my undergraduate degree, choosing a program in Engineering was not too hard! 5 years of undergraduate studeis, with 2 full years spent in the private industry helped me gain essential skills and finesse my talents so they could be marketable.
After graduation I continued working in non-governmental organisations and moving to commercialise my skills.
What have you found challenging and inspiring along this journey called life?
Hhm! Being a young lady in my industry, it was easy to get sidelined haha. I was passionate about being hands-on for the longest time, I like to solve problems on my own. So time and again I had to prove I was up for the challenge. So yup, at the end of day I felt inspired to stand up each and every time and work with “the guys”
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I love drawing parts and systems, lol it sounds hectic but I love the process of visualizing a part and reproducing it to suit any situation. I also watch documentaries of my favourite artists and actors just to appreciate their process of good music and movie production. It’s important to think about the process that leads to results, so inspiring.
Please tell us about your achievements and awards
I won the Mitek Zimbabwe trophy for Best Graduating female Student for my Bsc Honours degree! I really worked hard during my undergrad and having to work while going to school at night was a lot (shout out to everyone who balances school and work! it’s so worth it).
I am always grateful for my parents, they are the best award I have ever received, they are always supportive!
Do you have a favourite quote?
Yes, my own lol,
“In a world desperately searching for colour, be your own purple reign” ~ Rufaro Ruzengwe
A brief explanation is; our world is changing, so many times each day, each second, sometimes in good ways and some bad. Everyday we must make a conscious decision to do better and work towards being the color in this not so dark world.
How would you encourage a young girl struggling to be part of STEM?
Always pick yourself up, and it’s okay to fall sometimes. Sometimes we often assume life is rosy, it’s not. What matters is you getting back up. My dad always used to tell me on my dark days “the darkest hour is before dawn” so when things go hard, go harder, the sun is about to rise :).
Thank you very much Rufaro for taking time to inspire a young girl out there. We are always grateful and humbled to write stories of strong women like you. Thank you once again.