More African women are leading in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) that integrates the four fields into a single cross-disciplinary programme and focuses on real-world application and knowledge sharing. In an interview with Africa Renewal, Ohemaa Adjei Andoh of Ghana explains how she got into STEM and conveys a special message to African youth.
Ohemaa Adjei Andoh
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Ohemaa Adjei Andoh. I have a Bachelor of Science in Geological Engineering from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana, and went on to join Schlumberger, an Oil and Gas Service Company, for six years where I was trained as a Stimulations Engineer and later as a Cementing Engineer.
I helped form Girls in Science and Technology (GIST), an organisation that advocates for women and girls in STEM. We showcase a representation of Ghanaian women in STEM to help motivate our younger ones. We believe you can be what you see. We also provide mentoring, training and internship opportunities for young women in STEM.
I run an academy for kids called PM STEAM Academy, where we focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics hands-on activities to help them embrace their creativity and to develop their interest in STEAM at an early age. This academy also focuses on building their communication, teamwork and leadership skills. It encourages boys and girls to work in teams.
How did you get into STEM?
I am also a certified Transformational Life Coach. I am doing this to help others be the best versions of themselves, be it in their personal lives, careers, etc. I believe everyone has a light in them that brings a lot of positivity into the world, and some people just need a little support to find it and put it to use.
I remember wanting to study a different course in my secondary school but my science teacher advised my mum that I do science because he thought that would be better for me. My mum went on a school tour with me at KNUST and spoke to some lecturers before we finally decided to go with Geological Engineering. So, I did General Science before going to KNUST for my bachelor's degree.
What achievement are you most proud of?
I will say it is being able to tailor my passion to helping the younger generation through STEM. That is through GIST and the PM STEAM Academy.
What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?
A challenge is getting financial assistance for GIST, to be able to carry out all the impactful projects we have lined up. This is still a challenge, but we are learning to impact one person at a time. I believe that with time we will be able to do more.
What opportunities do you see in STEM in Africa?
Africa has so much untapped human knowledge; so many people have not been able to identify the talents they have to solve challenges in society. Many young people at the early stage of life are not privy to the fact that STEM can transform society. I believe with more education, information and awareness, and by making opportunities available, we will be able to identify and help develop the amazing talent out there.
What is your message to young Africans about STEM?
My message to the young ones is that STEM is not difficult. STEM is fun, it is the basis of our very existence. Don't shy away from STEM subjects in school. Embrace it and apply the knowledge gained in your surroundings. Knock on doors to get opportunities and use the internet for research. There are so many opportunities out there waiting for you. Shine your light wherever you go!