Joanna Kidde | Uganda | BEng | University of Calgary

Joanna is a 20-year-old student from Uganda who completed her International Baccalaureate at the Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa, Kenya. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Engineering at the University of Calgary.

Pursuing an education in STEM fields is a cultural taboo in Uganda, which Joanna has battled with since primary school. She has a strong desire to shift her community’s stereotypical perception of the abilities of girls and women, especially in the fields of science and technology. Unfortunately, the common belief in Uganda is that young women are expected to adhere to traditional general roles by engaging in unintellectual domestic work.

Encouragement from her parents and peers is what motivated Joanna to work harder to achieve her goal of being accepted into an exceptional civil engineering program and becoming a civil engineer in her home country. The driving force behind her ambition is her ardent passion for mathematics and physics and a desire to change society’s view of women in the STEM fields.

Joanna is passionate about community development, particularly the development of infrastructure. She is frustrated by her country’s dependence on foreign firms to carry out local development projects while using locals as laborers, rather than passing on necessary skills and expertise. As a skilled civil engineer, Joanna plans to promote the training of locals in her community by providing jobs that will help improve their skills in STEM, especially for women.

“If women are empowered to become contributing members of their societies, then they will feel compelled to develop themselves for the greater good of their country.”

Joanna plans to contribute to the economic development of Uganda by researching convenient routes of transport to ease the movement of goods and services in and out of economic centers in Uganda. She believes that creating self-sufficient citizens and an economy that is not reliant on foreign countries will change the balance of power in an unstable political system. She is confident that Uganda has the potential to develop into a nation that promotes equality, creates sustainable revenue, and improves upon its social services. Pursuing civil engineering is one way by which she can play a role in creating a brighter future for Uganda.

by Marissa Pura