Female Security Engineer – Vane Makori

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I met Vane during my employment as a tutor at AIMS in Ghana. Here is our interview about her scientific journey:

Kindly state your name please.
My name is Vane Makori

What do you do currently?
I am a Backend Developer at White Ops Analytics Canada. As part of my job, I create software used for computer forensics and bot detection. I am mostly involved in writing scripts and creating/improving features for the products we provide to improve their performance and quality as required. This might involve testing (mostly unit testing) a lot of these features. I am in a team of 6 where we do a lot of pair programming which is the fun part of the job, I get to learn a lot.

How about your academic journey?
I was born and raised in Kisii, Kenya, where I also went for my primary school. I graduated from Rehema Academy, Kisii, for my primary school, after which I joined Christ the King Academy, Nakuru, for my secondary school. I was famous in my high school, my name was on the school’s Wall of Fame *laughs*. (Check the class of 2008)

In 2010, I joined Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya, to pursue a bachelors degree in Mathematics and Computer Science. I later joined the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Ghana, in 2015, for a masters in Mathematical Sciences. Upon gradation, I joined the University of Victoria, Canada, for a Masters in Telecommunication and information security.

What have you found inspiring and challenging along this journey?
For a very long time throughout high school and my undergraduate time, my greatest inspiration was my family. I was motivated to work hard, go an extra mile than what I did previously with hope that I will change the living conditions in my family. I always thought that I would be the one who would bring change as early as 13 and with education, I saw my way out. This has changed over time as I continue to recreate who I am and what I stand for as a person and my source of inspiration keeps changing. At the moment I am my own inspiration, trying to be better than I was yesterday and make a choice to do things that bring me joy and satisfaction.

Challenging experience is a tricky question, I have had a fair bit of challenges to get to where I am today. I would probably pick the hard task I had to go through just to pay school fees and try to survive in undergraduate. The school had a policy that you cannot do final semester exams if you haven’t paid all the required fee. This was somehow an advantage as it allowed me to attend all classes throughout the semester and wish for a miracle during examination times. I lived by a statement that if I can’t change something, I should not worry myself over it. This struggle pushed me to acquire statistical analysis skills just so that I could make money doing research for PhD students. I did not make much money, but this skill propelled for future jobs after I completed my degree. Every exam times, I talked my way out of being kicked out for not having an exam pass which you get after completing fee requirements. I survived the 4 years by paying later, working during breaks, being so broke that the next meal seemed like a dream but somehow, things worked out. That experience moulded me and taught me independence and working smart.

What have been some of your achievements & awards?
I would probably say getting scholarships has been one of the biggest achievements I have received in my life as it has been very impactful. I received a scholarship throughout high school, at AIMS Ghana (Mastercard Foundation) and at University of Victoria (Queen Elizabeth Foundation). So grateful for such chances as I couldn’t be here without them. A generous lady from somewhere in the USA sponsored me through the catholic association in high school, I would like to thank her if I knew who she was. I have been trying to trace her, but it’s been unsuccessful.

Please tell us something about you outside work
I do a lot of outdoor activity every chance I get but the ones I spend most time on are playing soccer and biking. I currently play for two leagues at the moment, well one ends in September and another one I am training for which starts in September. I enjoy playing soccer, it’s the one thing in my life that I know so well and I am just myself. I picked up biking a year ago in Victoria, Canada. It’s very convenient and the roads here are safe to bike as the architecture is maintained. I bike everywhere I can and enjoy biking along the beach, so peaceful and relaxing.

How would you encourage a young girl who is struggling to find her place in STEM?
There is always time to reinvent yourself, start over, change your goals and decisions about your life. Life can be eventful and beautiful if you chose to live it that way. Work your way towards where you want to be, and everything else will fall into place.

Thank you Vane for taking your time to speak to me.

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