Orlyse reflects on her time at GGAST as graduation nears

"I would not exhaust the changes if I were to say how much change has occurred in the past three to four years. The most important and valuable difference I have observed is how much Gashora made me care about the people around me. Even for those who are just acquaintances, being able to stop whatever one is doing to help the other is a culture I have always valued at Gashora.”

Orlyse, Soon to be GGAST Class of 2022
Northwestern University Class of 2027

Orlyse, along with 86 of her Gashora sisters, will graduate from Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology (GGAST) on June 17th. She shared her reflections on her time at GGAST as she looks ahead to her future at Northwestern University. Enjoy!

Would you please introduce yourself? 

My name is Ineza Orlyse, a senior at Gashora Girls Academy (GGA) and a soon-to-be class of 2022 graduate! I have two brothers and a sister, and according to them, I am the serious, reserved, but caring younger sister. To my friends, I am a sarcastic and resourceful friend. To teachers and staff, I am an earnest student. One of the things I enjoy is engaging in outdoor activities, be it playing sports, biking, or taking walks, to name a few.

What were your first impressions of Gashora when you arrived? 

I was very intimidated by the new lifestyle I would live at Gashora. I realized that Gashora girls were responsible for themselves and seemed to balance their academics and extracurriculars easily. We only focused on academics at my previous school, and I only knew how to study. Fortunately, I arrived with several girls from my former school, and we stuck together as we adjusted. Another critical factor was the willingness of older Gashora girls to help us. They came by our dorm every night to ensure our day went well. On the first Monday, I tried out for the soccer team. The warm welcome and kindness of the soccer players rooted me and became a family.

You have been involved in student leadership. Tell us about your roles through the years?

In 2021 I was the Sports, Entertainment, and Clubs (SEC) prefect. The previous year, I actively engaged in the three departments as part of the varsity soccer team and as the science club president. My passion for extracurricular activities pushed me to run for the post, even though I knew how demanding it would be. I was responsible for all sports and clubs in the school, ensuring the active participation of all Gashora girls. I worked with the club presidents to organize events, was the bridge between the administration and the student body, and ensured the safety of all materials used in those departments. 

For those who knew me before, I was the reserved nerd. However, being the SEC prefect, I was compelled to speak to different people to serve them accordingly. With time, I learned to begin conversations with people I had never spoken to before. I learned how to treat people in different situations and to read people's reactions. Often, requests in the administration did not go through as planned, and I had to always come up with a backup plan. With the many tasks I had set for the day, I realized how my ability to plan was a great asset. Additionally, I uncovered how much I loved helping people regardless of how small the thing I was doing was. Being a prefect opened my eyes to the world of service.

Presenting at a UN Women event emphasizing the importance of women's participation in STEM. Orlyse shared innovation that could alleviate some of the hurdles experienced by small-holder women farmers by improving post-harvest management, reducing production losses, and thereby increasing women's incomes. The Humdity Zen system stabilizes the humidity in a room to the optimization range of 60%-80%, affecting the health of plants and animals.

Are you involved in other extracurricular activities?

I have been part of the science club since grade 10. The science club allowed me to learn sciences I did not take in my classes. With the guidance of chemistry teachers, I learned how to make various day-to-day materials like soap, glue, paint, and more. Above all, I joined the science club because of my passion for physics. I managed to immerse myself in the world of electricity, learning how to repair different electric appliances and how to connect and detect faulty circuits.

I also actively participated in the school's Model United Nations (MUN) club. I am a fan of politics, and with a club like MUN, I was where I belonged. During my time at MUN, I stood as the delegate of North Korea and had one of the best and most eventful experiences as I viewed the world through HE Kim Jong-Un's lens. Later, I got to represent the United States of America during President Trump's mandate and continued with the country when President Joe Biden was elected. I loved that MUN allowed me to cross borders and tend to problems as necessary as Human Rights. It taught me how to support a cause that I sometimes did not agree with and, most significantly, helped me improve my public speaking skills.

You are a top female competitor in a National Math competition right now. Congratulations! Could you tell us about that?

The math competition was one of the best experiences I have ever had. The idea of being second had never crossed my mind! The math competition was nothing like the math we do in class; instead, the questions tested how well you could apply math to solve real problems. I loved every step and enjoyed working out different numbers.

"The warm welcome and kindness of the soccer players rooted me, and they became my family. I will never forget the jokes made on the field, being part of a team, and scoring goals. I will miss my teammates and hardworking coaches." 

The soccer team won districts this May 2022 and competed in the country finals, winning their first two games, but losing to the Gasabo district.

As graduation approaches, what do you think you will miss most about GGAST?

The one thing I will miss most at Gashora is the community. Sisterhood is a word every Gashora girl hears as they enter and leave the school after three years. In my nearly ten years of studying in boarding school, I had never created such a bond with people around me that are not family. I know I can depend on my friends at any time because we share happy times and sad times. At Gashora, I have this one big family, and being apart from them after I leave will be hard. However demanding life might have been here, the people always made up for it.

How have you changed in the three years at GGAST?

I would not exhaust the changes if I were to say how much change has occurred in the past three to four years. The most important and valuable difference I have observed is how much Gashora made me care about the people around me. At Gashora, everyone cares about everyone. If we are a class, we all pass our exams as a class. If there is a struggling student, the brightest approach them to help. Even for those who are just acquaintances, being able to stop whatever one is doing to help the other is a culture I have always valued at Gashora.

You are headed to Northwestern University! What do you plan on studying and why? 

At Northwestern, I plan on taking Mechanical Engineering as my major course since it matches well with my plan for a career in building space vessels. On the side, I hope to add Astrophysics as a minor to supplement my knowledge about space. 

In ten years, I dream of being on one of the NASA teams that takes the first humans to Mars. After completing my undergraduate and graduate schools, I hope to join the race to space while working with a major space organization. My dream is to land on extraterrestrial soil as Neil Armstrong did.

Why do you believe girls’ education is essential?

The world is where it is today because women were finally given the freedom to leave their homes and study, lead and work as men did. Education has allowed a woman to survive alone, make decisions independently, and develop confidence in herself. I believe educating a girl is paramount in this era, especially considering the momentum of world trends. Women can do more with education to change the world into a better place for all.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My mom is my biggest inspiration; she is my best friend, counselor, and support system. Knowing her has been a God-given gift. She is the strongest woman I know. From a young age, I have witnessed her raise the four of us alone, working day and night to care for us. Our small family has never faced any financial difficulties because my mom never gave up. As I grow, I hope to become as independent, intelligent and kind, resilient, and loving as her.

If you could go back and give yourself advice as a first-year student, what would it be?

Take one step at a time and enjoy every moment you can.

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