#INSPIRE: CELEBRATING WOMEN WHO #MAKEITHAPPEN – CAMER STEM LADIES [PART 1]
Hello People. Happy Women’s Day. I got inspired to do this series because of International Women’s Day. The Theme for this year is #MakeITHappen. Is anyone like me tired of being the only Black/African girl in the room? I am in very male dominated profession and industry and it gets works the more years of experience you have. To start reversing this trend, more girls need to be encouraged to join STEM fields and programs. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics.
Girl Day. “Bring It Out” Campaign…
Celebrating CAMER Ladies in STEM. Be #Inspired.
Judith Atem is an Electrical Engineer with National Oilwell Varco in Houston, TX, a position she has held for the past year. Prior to moving to Texas, she spent 6 years at Baldor ElectricCompany (A member of the ABB Group) in Flowery Branch, GA, starting off as a Manufacturing Engineer (3yrs) and later as an Electrical Engineer specializing in the design of AC electric motors.
Judith grew up in Cameroon and attended Seat of Wisdom College, Fontem. In 1999, just after completing form 3 at the tender age of 14, moved to the US where she completed her high school education at Gainesville High School in 2002. As a young high school student I had a great interest in physics and math. With no idea what type of career would best suit me, I fortunately had an uncle, a Civil Engineer who took interest in me and encouraged me to do some research about engineering as a career choice. With the advancements in technology at the time my interest was quickly drawn to Computer Engineering. However, I later discovered Electrical Engineering was for the most part Computer Engineering with a couple of semesters of Electrical courses. With that in mind I wanted to keep my options open so went for Electrical Engineering.
My college career started in 2002 at Gainesville College (2yr school) where I did my perquisites. In 2004 I transferred to Southern Polytechnic State University (SPSU) in Marietta, GA to complete my degree. While at SPSU, I became a member of National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) in hopes to make new friends and it sounded befitting. That year, NSBE encouraged its members to partake in the Black history month’s events that spring for a chance to attend the National convention in Boston, MA for FREE. Well with my love for travelling and being a college student you do what you have to especially when it’s FREE ;). Attending the NSBE conference completely changed my college experience for the best. To see thousands of minorities excelling academically, professionals succeeding in corporate America and beyond, I was hooked. I took NSBE’s mission; “To increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community” as my personal mission statement. I was elected chapter president in 2005 and led my chapter to the prestigious honor of Regional chapter of the year Award. I have been privileged to serve students not just through my leadership in different organizations, but also as a Resident Assistant. This role gave me the opportunity to coordinate and supervise activities and events to meet the needs of students living on campus, all for FREE housing on campus. I was VERY involved in college; however these experiences helped in making my college experience one I will not trade for the world.
In 2007, I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering Technology. Since graduating, Ms Atem has remained actively involved in her local community through church, serving as Youth Coordinator (Cameroon Catholic Community Atlanta), sorority, professional organizations, and other Cameroon cultural organizations. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, travelling, sporting activities and being outdoors.
Dr Nkem Khumbah on the state of STEM in Africa
Minella is currently a Geology MS student at the University of Arkansas. I obtained my Bachelors at Texas A&M University. I had a passion for science while in high school (St Bede’s College Ashing-Kom and St. Augustine’s College Banso). It all started with the Buea Mountain eruption. I wanted to know what the cause of such activities, but did not know that Geology had any links petroleum back then. There were lots of challenges, starting with limited resources, expertise and knowledge about Geology. Moving to the US for the “American Dream” I have been able to bring my passion for Geology to life. Nonetheless, most often being the only African Female Geologist, sometimes I have this weird feeling that I might be in the wrong field, but my passion and vision will not let me quit. I will be interning with Chesapeake Energy Corporation this summer and looking forward to an amazing, promising and fulfilling career in Petroleum Geology upon graduation in December!
I am Minella Majenu (Patcha) and I am a Cameroonian Geologist!!!
Yefon thank you for the providing us the platform and the opportunity to tell our story during this International Women’s Day.
Many potential students coming from outside the U.S. have little or no mentorship. We leave countries where opportunities are meager and find ourselves in one where it’s the total opposite. This can be overwhelming. So when trying to figure out what you love versus is what is marketable a.k.a fast-money, it is easy to wander very far away from your strengths/talents.
My undergraduate degree was in Computer Science years ago at University of DC. I had no idea what Computer Science curriculum consisted of. Luckily for me I fell in love with programming. I had wonderful professors who were also female role models like; Dr Myrtle Jonas (RIP), Prof. Lavonne Manning & Prof. Lesa Horton. They truly believed in my ability and inspired me to work hard. After obtaining my bachelors, I worked for a year and then decided to do a Masters degree in Applied Mathematics & Actuarial Science. I was accepted in George Mason University in Fairfax Virginia. It helped to have a father who lived and breathe mathematics throughout my childhood. To make it even better, most of my pre-requisites for computer science were math related and I tutored mathematics for 4yrs while studying for my undergraduate degree.
The journey may be tedious for all but the road blocks as a woman plus being an African Woman are very debilitating. After struggling and finally graduating from GMU I was done. I had no desire to further study. Needless to say the challenges of a career woman do not end when studies are done. The corporate world has its own surprises and I was completely baffled. I got subtle remarks from colleagues questioning my ability to deliver. I came across colleagues who would do a double take when they realized I was not only a woman, I was black!! I felt reduced to a body and not a brain. I once had an internship with IBM and I was working with two mentors. One of them would not talk to me. He never even tried. I tried blocking the glaring racial issues that were kicking my behind but they would not just go away. This mentor once invited all of us to his house for a bbq (I guess he could not dis invite me since we were in the same group). I realized then it was a bigger issue than I could deal with. Upon showing up at the bbq and meeting my fellow intern colleague who was a female from Morocco, I watch him interacting very well with her. His entire family will not even shake my hand. Lol. Well the other mentor I had was there. He was a warm guy. We even kept in touch way after that. I later worked with another organization (which I would not mention) where moving up meant giving up assets. Yeah personal assets. Again this was my introduction to corporate America. I began to second guess my choice to be a career woman. Today I work virtually for Bank of America big as a Consumer Strategic Analyst. Even though there are challenges to continuously make yourself valuable by increasingly challenging the status quo. Results are evident, and the measurable performance is what helps every associate move up. I do lots of root cause analysis in SQL Server (programming back ground helps here), build report for pilot programs within the Bank and I am currently focusing this year on quantitative analysis; frequency distributions, trends and forecasting around the given data. I am excited about using more of the mathematical background to challenge myself in order to grow further in my career. It is worth noting that even virtually, there are challenges as a woman. May be fewer and less evident but still there. I find that in order to qualify for a leadership role, women have to give up family values and completely submit themselves to their job in order to gain respect and recognition. Men however just have to learn to talk to the talk and they climb the corporate ladder. #corporatepoliticsdotcom