Every month we ask one individual in our network a few questions about their way into tech, their motivation and their lessons learned.
Let’s start from the beginning. Tell us about where you’re from!
I was born and raised in a village called Adi-Tseguar in Eritrea, which is on the border to Ethiopia. I lived there for about 22 years. Then I moved to Ethiopia during my studies because of the political situation in Eritrea. After that I took the risky journey to Europe through Sudan, Libya and the Mediterranean Sea because I had no better solution at that time. Italy was the first country in Europe I stepped in before I came to Switzerland. Now I live in Meilen, Switzerland since April 2015.
What valuable advice did you get from your parents?
When I was four, my father started teaching me Tigrigna alphabets (Eritrean Language). He told me that I must be a good student when I started school and to make him proud although neither my father nor my mother were educated. I was able to read the alphabets by the age of five. My father was a soldier at that time, so he had to leave us and go to the war. Unfortunately, he didn’t come back home, he died in the war, so my mother raised us on her own. One year later I started primary school, and I was one of the best students in our school. I remembered my father’s words and I worked hard to be the girl he wanted me to be. I hoped that he would be back one day, and that he would be proud of me. I still have the same feeling. Not only my father is always in my thoughts, but my mother also. Normally, a girl gets married by the age of 15 to 18 in our village, but my mother protected me from such situations and motivated me to finish my education successfully. I was the only girl my age who was able to join to the university in our village. I even scored the highest mark compared to the boys in our village. This was all with the help of my mother. My parents’ motivation helped me to be optimistic.
How did you become interested in tech?
I began junior school in 7th grade, which is when it starts in our country. One day I was sitting at home and listening to the radio. There was a man doing an interview, and he was an Electrical engineer. The journalist asked him why he wanted to study electrical engineering, which is a very difficult field. The man answered that he liked to work on difficult things and be successful in these things. Starting from that time I wanted to study electrical engineering because I heard that it was difficult, and I wanted to do it. Later I decided to study computer engineering rather than electrical engineering because our country needed people who could work in the technology field; I wanted to be one of the wanted people. That’s why I started studying computer engineering.
What drives you at work or when you are studying?
A beautiful day starts with beautiful sunshine, Powercoders are the beautiful sunshine of my life. They are helping me and many other people who have a similar background to me. This drives me to work harder in my studies and to help other people who need my help with all the means I can.
What has been your toughest challenge you faced while working in tech?
In our village, I was struggling to convince many boys that tech belongs to both genders equally, girls can work just as good as boys. The people were not able to understand me, instead they were isolated me. To withstand this was very difficult for me.
What aspects of your work are you proudest of?
I am proud because I was able to withstand our village’s rumors and be one of the best girls in school. Even though I couldn’t finish my studies there, I was at least a clever student.
What advice would you give other women in tech?
I would love to say to the women in tech: live your dreams! Believe that you can do whatever you want to do. Moreover, we must know that there is nothing given only to men which is not given to women.