Rebecca, or Becky as known by her friends, is a female African student in computer science, with a passion for technology. Despite societal obstacles, she works hard to excel in her academics and enjoys coding in her free time. Her ultimate goal is to develop innovative solutions that positively impact her community in Uganda;
Hi Rebecca, it is wonderful to have this conversation with you. The last time we met, things were not very clear. But now, I am very proud of your journey so far!
Hi Winnie. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my story, and thanks to Cedric for telling me about Words That Count. What you are doing interests me, especially from the different stories I have read. With the few numbers in STEM, this platform is full of hope, encouragement, and a brand new look at life.
Briefly introduce yourself to our audience
My name is Rebecca Nannungi from Uganda. I am a final-year computer science student in the College of Computing and Information Sciences, at Makerere University in Kampala. Apart from that, I do freelance IT projects in development and also volunteer with Emulti Solutions Uganda mainly in networking and security systems.
Tell us about your journey into computer science; how did you decide that this was the career of your choice?
From childhood, I wanted to be a lady with an impact on my community. Growing up in the slums of Kampala, I always knew I wanted to make a change and see that many girls get access to proper education and not end up pregnant at a young age.
Going to school, I was introduced to technology in high school as an opportunity to realize a dream I always had. However, getting to the university, I realized that this was very challenging. My passion for technology was not backed up by enough experience to immediately grasp the content in a computer science class. I started realizing how new the world of technology was, but that didn’t deter me from continuing with my passion.
With time, I have realized how vital technology is to the world and how it contributes to the world being a global village through the internet. I am very proud to be where I am and to be making contributions through my freelance projects.
Another thing I have realized is that many women and girls are struggling to join the computer science world. Personally, the journey in computer science so far hasn’t been an easy one but seeing different women out there making it is very encouraging. I keep pushing on because of the hope to impact others and a chance to improve myself as a person. My main interest is to be able to find greater opportunities that will allow me to use my skills to change Africa. For now, I wish to see more girls and women join us in computer science and technology in general.
What are some of the biggest challenges have you faced during your path in computer science?
The challenges I have faced include setbacks due to a lack of support from people around me and limited financial aid. Computer science courses and careers are expensive in terms of investment. For one to become an expert, one needs to invest a good amount of money, and that has been limiting for me.
My other challenge is having no guidance about what exactly to specialize in. Choosing a specific path is more challenging and overwhelming than people know. For example, before joining the university, I had never even heard of any programming language or how any of that works.
Also being a lady in this field is challenging as many times our work and contributions are overlooked.
What inspires you to move forward, when faced with these challenges?
My inspiration to move forward comes from keeping my eyes on the goal. I know that one day I will be able to make an impact and help others through computer science and technology in general.
Who is Rebecca outside of computers and machines?
Outside of work, I love fashion, playing chess, traveling, and reading. I also love spending time with friends and family.
What’s your favorite quote?
“When the going gets tough, the tough keep going” ~ Joseph P. Kennedy
What are your words of encouragement for anyone who wants to join the world of computer science?
Dream big and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve what you want. Be persistent and patient and remember that tough times will always come but they won’t last forever. Let’s take it upon ourselves to work hard and build a version of Africa that others have just dreamed of.
Thank you, Rebecca, for taking the time to share your journey with us. I know there are people waiting to learn about computer science in Africa, especially through a female lens. We wish you the best in the remaining period of your degree.