When people decide to embark on their dreams, whatever that may be. Most people think of obstacles they may face and decide it is not worth it. They block themselves from experiencing and exploring the world through different eyes and growing. For a select few, their dreams and aspirations outweigh the obstacles they face. Due to this, they end up doing things just because they can! This can do attitude– allows them to amaze people. In turn they experience life in a way they themselves may have dreamed about. Experiencing all this authentically while staying true to themselves. My previous guest was one of the few.
Kagonya Awori is Kenyan. Currently a Phd student at the University of Melbourne; she recently received the Anita Borg Google Scholarship. Kagonya was the first African Master’s graduate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) . HCI is a growing field and is important. While studying at CMU, Kagonya quickly discovered that HCI was interesting as it involved studying with people from different educational backgrounds such as the arts. This slowly turned into her passion. Kagonya says that she initially decided to study computer science to get away from people but found that that was not the case. With her extroverted personality, it seems unlikely. Kagonya has now practically been on all the continents except South America and Antartica. She enjoys travelling and is a die hard foodie!
After her Master’s Kagonya returned to Kenya and set up ACM SIGCHI. It is an academic organisation that centres on HCI sort of like AIESEC. Her goal was to inspire students, mentor and challenge them to design relevant and useful designs that would help local communities. She also encouraged women to pursue Computer Engineering.
In tech Kagonya says that she does not really feel the pressure of being a woman in a field that is dominated by men. She says that she feels the reception she gets as an African is rather dismissive. Kagonya was a lovely guest and I had great fun. To learn more about her, her journey and project with her brothers you can listen to her here on the show. You can connect with her on twitter and her website.