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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Brilliant African Lady wins Mastercard Scholarship, bags masters degree at the University of California

A brilliant African lady named Vivian Omondi who won the Mastercard Foundation scholarship has bagged a master’s degree at the University of Californa Berkley in the United States.

Vivian, a Kenyan obtained her bachelors degree in Computer Science at the University of Nairobi, Kenya before she was awarded the Mastercard Foundation scholarship to study in the United States.

She earned a master’s degree in Information Systems and Management at the University of California Berkley (UC Berkley), United States. Vivian stated on the university’s website that it was a Google search that led her to take an interest in computer science.

The University of California, Berkeley has partnered with The Mastercard Foundation in a collaborative, global network of education institutions and non-profit organizations that believe education is a catalyst for social and economic advancement.

 

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The UC Berkley scholarship is fully funded. The application for the 2024 cohort ended in March, However, you can find out more information on the next opening and how to apply for the scholarship HERE.

Vivian who grew up in a remote town said she had almost no knowledge of computer science or other tech industry career paths but when she was deciding what to major in at the University of Nairobi, her brother suggested computer science which she google searched.

She recalled that her first exchange with a computer was in a computer science class when she was at the University of Nairobi. She further expressed her disappointment when she discovered that the ratio of women to men in her class was not balanced to the extent that most of the females were losing interest.

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Seeing that her fellow female classmates needed support and encouragement in the TECH space rather than dropping out, she started a club to encourage and support women studying computer science and technology.

She also created a mentoring program that extended its reach to local universities and, eventually, high schools. The program aimed to engage with young girls, establishing a strong network of support and fostering a sense of belonging.

Completing her undergraduate degree while also engaging in activities relating to women and girls in STEM earned her the prestigious Google Anita Borg Scholarship for outstanding women in technology.

The award later got her into Google as a Developer Relations Community Manager in 2017 where she worked on a larger scale to support tech developers across Africa through various Google programs for developers.  During her time with Google, Vivian met with women across Africa and encouraged each other to learn new technologies.

Vivian worked as a software engineer two months after leaving Google at Crediation, a fintech startup operating in Kenya stating that the free time and transition allowed her to think about her future.

She decided to pursue a master’s degree but was not sure what program or university she should apply to as she wanted something different from the theoretical computer science degree she obtained during her undergraduate years.

She shared her decision with the CEO of Crediation who is an alumna of UC Berkley and then introduced her to other alumni who encouraged her to apply to the University of California Berkeley School of Information. 

Vivian expressed her excitement upon receiving the acceptance letter. However, her enthusiasm diminished when she contemplated how to finance her studies. In light of this, she contacted the UC Berkeley School of Information who recommended the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program.

She was awarded the Mastercard Foundation scholarship which covers the cost of her master’s degree and also includes travel, student fees, visa and SEVIS, housing, food, and living expenses.

Vivian mentioned that it was hard at first because everything started online because of the pandemic over time, she took trips and attended leadership forums with inspiring people.

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