A Graduates Journey
Ineza Mizero Ines Kevine is full of appreciation as she reflects on her time at Gashora Girls Academy. She graduated last weekend and will be a freshman Middlebury College this fall - Go Panthers! Below she shares her journey of transformation.
Would you please introduce yourself?
My name is INEZA MIZERO Ines Kevine. I graduated last weekend as a senior majoring in Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science. I have two younger sisters and live with my parents in Kigali City. In my free time, I enjoy public speaking, singing, listening to music, and hanging out with my friends. I firmly believe that STEM education has great potential to transform the world, and I want to contribute by empowering it.
You participated in TechGirls. Tell us about this program.
The Tech Girls Summer Exchange Program, sponsored by the US Department of State, aims to empower and inspire young girls worldwide to pursue careers in technology. This program took place at Virginia Tech, where we took 40 hours of coursework and 30 hours of workshops.
My biggest takeaway was that the world is full of opportunities and possibilities. It is up to us to take the initiative and use the opportunities we have been given. It was an eye-opening and transformative experience that showed me the potential impact I could have on the world. I overcame my fear and the mentality that I could not impact society at my age. Making a difference is possible regardless of age or circumstance. This experience pushed me to launch my initiative, STEMPossible, my first-ever initiative.
Tell us about this initiative you started, STEMPossible?
As a developing country, Rwanda's youth, particularly those in rural areas who often lack access to resources, must be aware of and engaged in STEM. It is disheartening when the youth see problems in their communities but cannot find solutions due to a lack of knowledge. STEM enables individuals to think creatively and develop solutions to various issues. I created STEMPossible to promote STEM awareness in Rwanda, focusing on rural areas and providing workshops to raise awareness about the benefits of STEM careers without forcing students to choose. Our approach has been successful, with more than 30 students attending our workshops, where we have discussed various careers in science. Additionally, we have started a fundraising event called Share Your Share, where we hope to raise money to buy school materials for 30 students in the Gashora sector.
You participated in the first Lego League Championship in 2023. What is this and what did you learn?
The FIRST LEGO League is an exciting competition that exposes youth between ages 4-16 to STEM through engaging hands-on learning. The competition has three parts: the robotic game, where you solve different missions using a robot that your team puts together using legos; core values, which are your team's values; and the innovative project that your team comes up with that solves worldly problems using STEM.
For three months, my team and I worked tirelessly, leveraging every member's skills and abilities, to develop the project we presented to the judges on the final day. This experience introduced me to STEM in a practical way and increased my passion for it. As the team captain, I learned valuable leadership and teamwork skills, and my teammates became more than just colleagues; they became a family. Our support and teamwork for each other earned us third place in the core values award as the team with the most core values.
You have two podcasts! How did this begin?
During the pandemic, I discovered my love for podcasts and wanted to create my own. I had no idea how; I just knew I wanted to make a podcast. I began researching and found that I needed a microphone, a studio, and a lot of other things that I could not afford. However, I still had hope and began watching online videos on how to make my own mini microphone. Soon I was recording my first episode of "This And That" (TAT). I gained skills in music production as I made introductory and background music, graphic design as I created posters and logos, and advertising.
Later, I created "The STEMVerse podcast," which is a podcast that I made as part of STEMPossible. In this podcast, I invited different Rwandan women in STEM, intending to have them inspire other young Rwandan women.
How have you changed since coming to Gashora?
This question always reminds me of the girl who entered Gashora in January 2020 and who is graduating in 2023. They are totally different! Gashora removed me from the shell I was hiding under and showed me that getting out of my comfort zone and achieving great things was okay. It also exposed me to many opportunities that helped me figure out my passion and build networks in STEM. I realized I was not forging a perfect future but one with purpose. I am thrilled I joined Gashora and hope that I can give back to it in the future.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
In the future, I envision myself making a significant impact in Rwanda's educational sector through technology. As a software engineer, I aim to create innovative platforms and software that will facilitate the delivery of quality education to everyone. After attending Gashora Girls and experiencing firsthand how quality education can positively change the world, I plan to use what I've learned to help other schools in the country. I hope all schools in Rwanda provide quality education, ultimately resulting in a brighter future for everyone.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
I draw a lot of inspiration from my parents. They have always been my pillars of support, consistently believing in me even when I didn't have faith in myself. Witnessing their passion and dedication towards making my education and life, in general, better has inspired me. One of my goals is to achieve a level of personal success that will honor them.