Aaliyah Ovayoza Ibrahim (W.TEC Camp 2010)
Very few experiences can one deem unforgettable. W-TEC Girls Technology Camp that held in the beautiful summer of 2010 is one of such experiences for me. In one word I would describe it as ‘unforgettable’, in two; it would be ‘eye-opening exploration’. I would always remember the unexpectedness of the events that followed after my two-hour flight from Kaduna landed. The warm smiles, the energy radiated by girls my age to learn and the willingness to explore new things were just the first of many unexpected yet completely fulfilling aspects of summer 2010 in Lagos. And then the adults who I met, who listened, tended to my developing mind, accommodated my inabilities, ignited my curiosities and watched me flourish made it all life-changing.
There I was in the middle of the boarding room that summer, first to arrive, hence special privileges of choosing the best bed, but I was afraid, anxious. Fourteen-year old girls who liked to play with technology, and had hard to pronounce middle names like ‘Ovayoza’ didn’t just hop into airplanes to fly thousands of miles away unaccompanied to meet new people without feeling incredibly anxious. But as those new people became amazing individuals, the anxiousness ebbed away.
As it did, I learnt to use Microsoft Word and PowerPoint in a series of nicely thought classes. I listened to series of lectures about pursuing careers in STEM fields as a young African woman from people who had thrived in these fields. My favorite of such lectures was by Nkem Uwaje-Begho, who entranced and inspired my young mind with tales from the IT world filled with possibilities. There was more; classes on craft making, occasions to debate and act out self-scripted plays, assignments in teams to solve specific problems, classes on simple etiquettes and of course, sports in the form of karate.
The ripple effect of those days emerged after the camp. I was armed with an e-mail address I created on a camp computer and use till date, and knowledge of technological possibilities. I returned to Kaduna excited, with stories to share and a pocketful of new ever-lasting friends.
I enrolled that same year in the science orientated program of my secondary school assured that indeed a career in the STEM field waited. I was a few Computer classes ahead of my peers that term after the camp, and if anything I saw myself as an assured young woman. I felt inspired by the people and events I had encountered to thrive continuously as the “Attentive Aaliyah” I was encouraged to tag myself.
It is that thriving spirit that contributed to my choice to study Biomedical Engineering three years on. I look forward to a bright future in STEM, one that was assuredly made clearer by those summer days as W-TEC Camper.
– Aaliyah Ovayoza Ibrahim attended the 2010 W.TEC Camp and is now studying at Yale University, CT, USA