It gives us so much joy to see talent overflow among young African women. Meet 22-year-old Anita who is already making her mark in health research;
Hi Anita. Thank you for accepting to join us today
Hi Winnie, I am glad to be part of the work you do, which I greatly admire. I have been inspired by the stories I have read so far of the ladies in STEM.
Thank you for the encouragement and kind words.
Briefly, who is Anita?
My name is Anita Kerubo Makori from Kenya. I will be 23 years old in April. Currently, I am a Research Assistant at the Center for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (CEMA). The work we do at CEMA-Africa helps guide decision-making in health using data. Among other things, the Center is responsible for guiding the Kenyan government on the management of the COVID-19 pandemic. We do this by applying statistical and epidemiological principles in analyzing health data to monitor trends and forecast possible outcomes. This helps decision-makers to implement appropriate interventions.
I concurrently work with the Washington State University Global Health Program in Kenya. Here we conduct One Health research (interdisciplinary research that brings together human, animal, and environmental health sectors) that aims to address health problems in Kenya.
I am also a mentor with the Global Give Back Circle, where we mentor young girls from underprivileged backgrounds to pursue their dreams and live to their full potential.
How did you end up in Health Research?
All through my primary and high school education, mathematics was my favorite subject and I always excelled in it. However, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in health. For this reason, I was very conflicted when it came time to choose an undergraduate degree after my final high school exams.
My father suggested a course he had seen online, BSc. Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and after researching what it was about, my decision was made. That is how I ended up at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST), which was the only university offering the course in the country at the time. Upon graduating, I reached out to CEMA-Africa for an internship position which I was offered and after the six-month internship period, I was retained as a Research Assistant.
What challenges have you faced along your STEM career path?
The degree I pursued during my undergraduate studies was very new in the country at the time and not many people knew about it. With this came several concerns from people, many of which were not encouraging. Some even expressly said that they didn’t think I would find a job after graduating.
What kept you from giving up on yourself during that challenging time?
One thing about me is that once I set my mind on doing something, I will do it. This mindset has enabled me to push myself beyond my limits and achieve my goals despite occasionally receiving critiques.
I am also an avid reader and I specifically enjoy reading autobiographies. I draw my inspiration from people’s journeys; learning about the challenges they faced and how they overcame them.
Lastly, I have a very supportive family. Whenever I feel discouraged, one call to any of my family members is enough to raise my spirits and put me back on track.
You are a hard-working person; tell us about your most prestigious moments of recognitions
I graduated top of my class with First Class Honors and was awarded Best overall student from the Department of Public Health in my year.
I am also happy to share that I have been accepted to pursue a Master of Science in International Health and Tropical Medicine at the University of Oxford, starting this October (2022).
Who are you outside work?
Outside work, I am a social butterfly. I enjoy traveling, listening to music, and dancing.
What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is from my current favorite book, Becoming by Michelle Obama. It says: “You may live in the world as it is, but you can still work to make the world as it should be.”
Another quote I love is: “You can’t grow with people who don’t like how growth looks on you” by Valencia (Source: Twitter).
Some encouraging words for a young girl in STEM;
STEM is fun! I enjoy what I do every day. That is not to say, however, that it is easy. But you can do it and we need more girls like you here. Also, you might get into workspaces where you are only one of the two girls there, don’t be intimidated. Own your space and act as you deserve it because you do.
Lastly, you can achieve whatever goal you have in mind if you just put in the work.
“Proud of you” is an understatement, Anita! Thank you for standing tall at every opportunity. I wish you so much success ahead, and please, enjoy Oxford.