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Berkeley Student Uses Scholarship Money To Provide STEM Training And Supplies for Girls In Uganda

Berkeley Student Uses Scholarship Money To Provide STEM Training And Supplies for Girls In Uganda

When you get, give. When you learn, teach. 

A Berkeley student is using her scholarship money to provide STEM training for girls in her native country of Uganda, Blavity reports. 

Gloria Tumushabe is the daughter of two accountants, a Uganda native whose parents instilled in her the importance of a quality education. Her father encouraged her to apply to schools in the U.S., letting her know, "You can become a better engineer at one of those top institutions.”

Tumushabe graduated valedictorian of her high school, eventually applying to the University of California, Berkeley to pursue her master’s degree. When she received her acceptance letter and a scholarship through the Mastercard Foundation Scholar program, Tumushabe said she was simply overjoyed. 

“I felt like I won the lottery when I got the letter that said I got into Berkeley and that I got a scholarship. I don’t think I slept,” she said. 

Unlike some students who would preparing for their journey by thinking of what they needed to do for themselves, Tumushabe wanted to help others. Particularly for the young women and girls in her home community, where 77% of the population is under the age of 25. 

That’s when Tumushabe got the idea to create Afro Fem Coders, an organization dedicated to training Ugandan girls in coding utilizing the resources Tumushabe is receiving at Cal-Berkeley. Using her scholarship money and donations, Tumushabe purchased laptops for girls back home who didn’t have them. Then she realized now that they had laptops, many still didn’t have access to Wi-Fi, so she began paying for that as well. 

“I feel like I don’t send them as much as I could. But that’s all I can afford. I’m so lucky. I have a scholarship that gives me a stipend. So part of my stipend goes towards the girls’ internet,” Tumushabe said. 

During the pandemic, she realized that many of the girls were forced to stay home and she took advantage of the opportunity to double down on her efforts. 

“I thought maybe this is my moment to actually start teaching and really empower these people to learn computer science,” Tumushabe said.

She is now teaching two classes to the girls, hoping to raise more funds to support the program through a newly launched GoFundMe campaign. According to a message on the site, “less than 5% of programmers in Sub-Saharan Africa are women,” a number Tumushabe is looking to change. “By empowering young women to code, we are shaping leaders who will innovate and positively impact people’s lives,” she wrote. 

The college student is juggling a lot but plans to continue to assist the girls back home, finding the motivation to keep going by seeing the impact she’s made in such a short time. 

“Sometimes it feels like a lot, but I get the satisfaction from watching how much my students have grown...And then I get these phone calls like ‘Hey, Gloria, I’m calling you to say thank you,” she said. 

To support the efforts of Afro Fem Coders, click here

Thank you for all of your work Gloria! Because of you, they can!

Photo Courtesy of Adam Lau/Berkeley Engineering