El-Hayil Puplampu is a first-year master’s student at the University of Colorado Denver, studying bioengineering. She studied biomedical engineering for her undergraduate degree at the University of Ghana. She has worked with GREMKAY-Innovate Ghana as a peer mentor and social media management and with Coders Who Travel. She enjoys helping people and seeing the development of products that drive growth and development generally.
Why did you get into STEM?
I have always been interested in STEM. I grew up enjoying wildlife documentaries, health-related documentaries as well as those that spoke of technological development in healthcare. My story may be like many others. My answer to the question about my future career was always to be in medicine and as such, I always directed a lot of my academic energies to the sciences, potentially to my detriment. However, there was a bit of a detour when I got to the university and got into biomedical engineering after losing out on the medical school dream. However, this detour has shown to be the better option.
Why do you consider your greatest achievements?
I can’t say I have one greatest achievement because that might undermine other things I may have done. Nonetheless, one of my notable achievements was taking part in a design competition (Innovate Ghana) and coming second. That move was a big risk for me because my reserved nature keeps me shying away from activities that involve a lot of people.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?
Being a lady/woman in STEM is a challenge in itself. There is always that side note of questioning: whether you are really good enough or worth the try in terms of work or even participation in school. I constantly question myself and ponder over my experiences. Sometimes, I have low self-confidence. However, having a great support system in friends and family helps me through. I guess there is also that issue of fear. Because of possible fear, I try to look over it to see the bigger picture and bigger opportunities, and strive for those instead of wallowing in fear.
What is your advice to budding women in STEM?
To any young lady finding their way in this land called STEM, it’s ok to be scared or to question your abilities. However, those questions and thoughts should only drive you to see that you are worth more, and can do more because it’s what you are made of – the ability to do more.