Women in Radiology – Mercy Victoria Kataike

The internet tells us that Radiology is a branch of medicine that uses imaging technology to diagnose and treat disease. Our guest today will teach us more about this field;

Hi Mercy, thank you for joining us today. Linda has said wonderful things about you. It’s good to finally speak with you
Thank you, Winnie. I am happy to be here.

Briefly introduce yourself to our audience, please
My name is Mercy Victoria Kataike from Uganda but currently based in Australia. I am currently doing my Doctorate at the University of Melbourne, Australia. My research area is Radiology where I am studying how brain cells recover from a stroke.

Walk us through your journey into Radiology
I grew up in an academic family of six. My father, now passed, was a Professor at the Department of Botany at Makerere University. My mother is a lecturer at the Department of Education at Kampala International University. I went to Winston Standard Academy and City Parents School for my primary education. For my secondary school, I was in Gayaza High School. I mention these because my father and mother made sure I had the best education regardless of the financial challenges.

I took my bachelor’s degree in Science at Makerere University, and at the end of my program, my supervisor then, Professor Yusto Kaahwa, encouraged me to study Hospital Physics. That defined my choice of study for my master’s education. I was awarded a Quota Scheme scholarship by the Norwegian government in 2014 and I undertook my master’s at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. I specialized in Medical Imaging and Medical Physics.

At the end of my studies, I had an A in my thesis but poor grades, so I decided to redo my degree, and this time I sponsored myself to study at the University of Oslo, and I succeeded. I decided to redo my master’s because of my interest in studying for a Ph.D. It took me a while though to get a Ph.D. opportunity. I was finally granted a Ph.D. position at the University of Melbourne, sponsored by both the Melbourne Research Scholarship and the Department of Medicine, Dentistry, and Health Sciences. I officially started in March 2022.

Let’s talk about some of the challenges you have faced along the way
My first master’s degree was quite difficult, especially the coursework. There were also external factors like the new environment not being friendly at the start. I found myself getting bad grades I had never seen on my academic papers in life. It was important for me to retake the degree, and I am glad I had the opportunity for that.

I would say also being an African girl in STEM at such an academic level comes with its challenges, pushing back stereotypes of people talking about the pace of acquiring academic qualifications. People in the past have openly asked who will marry me with all the qualifications and in this field!

Also, as much as it is considered courageous being in the minority wherever I find myself since most of my graduate career is in the diaspora, sometimes it comes with challenges like dealing with people’s stereotypes of my background.

My other challenge has been imposter syndrome, especially finding myself around professionals in my field. For example, heads of big companies who are interested in looking at my work.

What have you found to be most inspiring during these challenges?
One of my greatest inspirations is my father. He came from a disadvantaged home and studied his way to the top. He also pushed me to aim higher. I remember when I had just finished my bachelor’s education, he handed me money to go to Makerere University and look for masters’ scholarships first and not a job like others were doing.

When I got the scholarship to study in Norway, he was very happy. At that time, he was hospitalized because of a stroke he suffered, but he remembered to ask me about the outcome of my scholarship applications. He, unfortunately, passed away in November 2018 due to heart problems, just days after I had updated him about my academic progress at that time.

I was very heartbroken because he was my rock in my academic career. My current research is dear to my heart because my father suffered from a stroke and he survived it. I dedicate this work to him.

My loving family, my mother, my grandmother, and my siblings are my greatest cheerleaders. They cheer me on like cheerleaders literally! When I feel like giving up, I remember their support and love, and I can carry on.

Career-wise, my inspirations are my Masters’ supervisors; Professor Anne Catrine and Hilde Andersen. They were heads in the Department of Diagnostic Radiology at Oslo University Hospital. Seeing them lead these departments at the Oslo University hospital, and teaching at the University of Oslo inspired my desired career direction.

Other than the above, my inspiration comes from the stories of ladies that have made it in STEM, especially those from a similar background. If they can, I can.

You must have had moments that have made you realize your worth in STEM; tell us about those
My master thesis abstract was accepted and presented at the 105th RSNA (Radiological Society of North America) conference in 2019. It was a great honour to have my research accepted at an annual international conference as a masters’ student.

Who are you outside of work?
I am passionate about working with children, which I have done in church, as well as working with audiovisual communication (sound and live stream) in the church. My other happy moments are when I take walks in nature and listen to music.

I also volunteer as a board member at Yiya Engineering Solutions, a not-for-profit organization that provides innovative STEM education to children living in rural Uganda.

What’s your favourite quote?
I cannot think of a quote that has stayed with me through my life’s journey, but I am encouraged by a verse in the Bible, Proverbs 3:5-6 that says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”

What are your words of encouragement for a young girl in STEM?

Your dreams are no mistake. Gender, society, or even your background neither define nor limit your dreams! Dream BIG! And go BIG! Do not hold anything back! We are cheering you on and are proud of you, even if you are not seeing us in person.

Thank you very much, Mercy, for sharing your journey through us. I must admit that I didn’t know anything about Radiology, so for me, this has been a learning session. We wish you all the best with your Ph.D.

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28 Responses

  1. Way to go, Mercy! You are a formidable force. You’ve come from so far and there’s no better time than everyday to say, Ebenezer!

    I’m rooting for you! Despite how badly I miss my best friend! Go for the gold, the silver and the bronze, girl! 😄👏

    1. Wow, this is the real definition of cheerleading. Thank you for supporting Mercy, Bridgette, and for reading our work.

      1. Your academic journey is amazing and so inspiring.

        Praying for much more blessings throughout the entire journey Doctor Mercy.

  2. Well I had an opportunity to share a classroom with Mercy she is a true definition of a champion.

    Your hardwork is yet to be rewarded. I am convinced this is just a glimpse of who you’re to be to our society.

    Best wishes

    1. We love hearing from people who personally know our guests. Thank you, Bob, for the kind words towards Mercy and for reading our work.

      1. Wow!!!!!!!! Congratulations! Mercy on making it this far!! Keep going!! You are an inspiration to so many!!!

  3. Hurrraayyy!!!. We made it. We are triumphing on every side. You are a great inspiration Mercy. Being very close to you and working with you in many areas, even what you do outside work, with children and audiovisual has been a great asset. To the world, this is one of the most versatile person I have met in life. We will work on it till we achieve something, even when we can’t fix something, we give it a try. YOU WILL GO FAR IN LIFE, MERCY. God bless you

    1. Aaww..this is such a sweet message for Mercy. Thank you very much, Rhoda, for being in Mercy’s corner. We all need people who believe in us.

  4. Seeing you reach this far is simply a justification that the sky isn’t the limit for you Mercy.
    Having grown up with you as a sister and watch you chase up on your dream is more than inspirational. You’re a true definition of an Iron Woman(as I’ve always called you), a go getter and above all; a Champion.
    Your courage,confidence and charisma are exceptional.
    I just keep on praying to the almighty to grant you good health,long life,knowledge and wisdom to pursue your dreams.
    Kudos to you. A role model you’ll always be to me.

  5. Sooooo proud of you Mercy Victoria Kataike!!!! Sooo very bery proud! Keep going. We are cheering you on

  6. Oh my goodness Mercy! This is so inspiring! Thanks so much for sharing your story. I am certainly sharing your story with the children that I teach. So proud of you! Keep going, the future is bright.

    1. Thank you for reading, Alison! Making the stories reach as many audiences as possible is our goal. Thank you for sharing.

  7. So proud of you Mercy..You are still that go getter I met at High school. Never Give Up and blessing ahead .

  8. You a rock I built my high school chemistry and biology foundation on. I used your books with Bro Jessy in kitende st merrys.
    I thank God for your life and the works He’s done through you. You blessed my life. Collins Lubega.

    1. Thank you for reading, Collins. It’s good to hear such powerful testimonies about our ladies.

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