Hi! I’m Cleopatra, a 12th grade high school student. I’m a 17 years old Cameroonian.
How it all began?
The spark for STEM came from a young age. I vividly recall taking apart electronics, curious to see what makes them work. Being a food fan, I was impressed by food science and wondered about their organic makeup. When I came to the Lower Sixth form (equivalent of Grade 11), I had to pick 3 – 5 subjects among many. Subjects relevant to my interests and career goals. Without thinking much, my first choice was Chemistry. Physics, Mathematics, Biology and Computer Science added to the list later on.
How far have I come?
Although I’ve always been interested in STEM, I began to take it seriously about 2 years ago. In 2016, a woman came to my school and introduced the Technovation Challenge. At that time, I had never heard of this contest which challenged young girls to create a mobile app, business plan and stand a chance to win amazing prices. I formed a team with 3 other girls and created an app. We didn’t come close to winning but it was an amazing learning experience.
Inspired by this contest, I learnt how to code and spent my free time learning Web and Android App development and other digital skills. My efforts paid off when I later emerged one of the finalists and winners for the Google Code-in contest 2017 and 2018 sessions respectively.
Towards the end of 2018, I submitted an entry for the Google Science Fair, a science/engineering contest for teens. My biochemical project concerned minimizing food waste. This project was another learning experience on research, experimentation/testing and the scientific method. With the start of the 2019 new year, I came across greenlight for girls and sought ways to get involved. An ambassadorship position seemed exciting and I immediately applied.
Depending on how things work out, I’m expecting to be in university next year. As of now, I’m still torn between majoring in Computer Science or in Biochemistry/Natural Sciences. Hopefully, I can do a double degree/major.
As a winner of the google contest in 2018, Cleopatra wanted to encourage all girls to participate in STEM challenges, so she gathered some info for you!
Technovation Challenge: This challenge was born to engage more girls in the computing domain. Research showed that by 2025, women will only hold 25% of computing jobs. The Technovation Challenge hopes to increase this percentage. Young girls, aged 10 to 18 are invited to create an app which addresses a problem in their community. Both in the junior (10-14) and senior (14-18) divisions, finalists and their mentors stand the chance to win a fully-funded trip to attend the finals in the US. Overall winners in each division get up to $10000. The challenge normally runs from December to April.
EngineerGirl Writing Contest: If you have a penchant for writing, as well as an interest in Engineering, this is the contest for you. The competition is annual, and the themes vary per year. The 2019 session asked girls aged 13 to 18 to write a story depicting a female solving a problem or saving the day using engineering design. Winners stand the chance to win up to $500.
1000 Girls, 1000 Futures: This is an opportunity organized by New York Academy of Sciences, where young girls aged 13 to 18 are paired with an older and more experienced woman in a STEM field (a mentor). Girls learn about leadership, community and education, all relating to STEM. In addition, “Girls of the Month” win cool prizes, some of which may include trips to conferences/seminars.
Code Jam to I/O for Women: If you’re above 16 years of age and like solving algorithmic problems using code, this is the challenge for you. Google I/O is an annual conference organized by Google for tech enthusiasts. Tickets are rather expensive and cost over $1000. With Code Jam to I/O for Women, the top 150 female participants will win a ticket to the conference as well as travel reimbursements. Not an opportunity to be missed, if you want to attend the biggest tech event of the year.