Laetitia Benimana is a Mastercard Scholar at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) Rwanda, pursuing Masters studies in mathematical sciences with a focus in Data Science. Laetitia is currently applying her skills at Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) as a Data scientist intern under the planning and research department. She is developing a data portal and contributes to various data analysis done in department. Since her childhood, she has been interested in science. Mathematics has been her favorite course from primary and her dream was to become one of the top scientists in her country. She kept the love and passion for science to secondary level, where she took PCM (Physics, Mathematics and Chemistry) as her combination. After completing secondary school, Laetitia went to the University of Rwanda, College of Science and Technology where she received a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering.
Why did you get into STEM?
At my early age, my father told me that if I want to go further, I have to take STEM courses. I remember he told me that with a mathematics background, every course will be easier for me, and I have seen that. I found myself in STEM courses as I climbed the educational ladder because I got inspired and loved them and found that was my dream career. The more I went deep in STEM, the more I liked how it addresses real social, economic, and environmental problems and encourages solutions to them. Only Mathematics teaches us that every problem has a solution.
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
One of my greatest achievements is winning the best inspiring award in the Mastercard Foundation Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship fund (MCF -SIEF) which took place in June 2019. Being a scientist with problem solving skills helped me to identify the challenge that my society is facing and I took the first place using analytical skills and critical thinking to come up with the idea awarded as the best inspiring.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge I have encountered in my career is discouragement. Most of my friends told me that science is not meant for women. I overcame this by following my heart and worked hard to make a difference at least to show them that science also can be a successful career for women. I really wanted to do science but I didn’t know any female role model who had already succeeded in my career. Now, I am trying my best to be there for young girls who are facing the same issue.
What is your advice to budding women in STEM?
To my fellow women out there, I would like to tell you that you are strong enough to be successful in your chosen STEM career. Just have confidence in yourself, be committed and don’t be afraid to be assertive. This world needs more of you – more of us. Get a mentor and join a support group of peers. Together we stand.