Well, who ever had the notion that girls are not as smart as boys or that they cannot take on hard science subjects should start thinking otherwise.
ChimpReports brings you Uganda’s second female Aerospace Engineer, Lynette Kebirungi, after Eng. Winnie Byanyima.
Lynette, a beautiful and extremely intelligent girl tells of her story with insight on family, her school and social life and her plans for Uganda in the aerospace field.
From the interview, anyone can tell that she is highly intelligent, hardworking and ambitious. Below are the interview excerpts.
CR: Who is Lynette Kebirungi? (Personality)
Lynette: Well, I’m not in the habit of describing myself to anyone. However, I would like to think of myself as a driven person with a lot of ambition. I give my all to my projects and love it when people doubt my ability to deliver, which is almost always. This just gives me the drive to accomplish what I set my mind to. I’m very strong minded and will get my point across if I am not in agreement. However, I love to learn and will always acknowledge someone else’s point of view if they make a better case. I believe opening one’s mind to different perspectives is the key to creativity and development. I work hard and play hard as cliché as that may sound because life is short. I am sometimes borderline workaholic so I need to remember to LIVE life, unwind and regenerate my mind through travel and friends.
CR: Tell us about your parents and background.
Lynette: I am not sure I can fit this into a paragraph but I will do my best. I am born to Mr and Mrs Apollo Nyegamehe from Bukinda, Kabale. They are very ambitious, nurturing, caring and loving parents. I consider myself blessed to have been raised by them both. We didn’t always have what we have now but my parents gave all they had to their family. My mother, Monica Nyegamehe gave me a strong Christian foundation. We prayed every night before bed and it was all routine and boring to me as a child. It was not till I grew up and started to see God’s hand in my life that I started to appreciate that foundation. My father has worked tirelessly to get us all to the places we are in, working long hours and putting us right when we strayed. I come from a lovely family of Seven, Roland, Anita, Arvin, Yvonne, Peter, Jaky and last but not least me?. Each and every one of them has played a very huge role through support in getting me to where I am today.
CR: Where did you grow up? Did you move around a lot as a child? If yes, how did it affect your life? If no, did the stability help a lot in your success?
Lynette: I grew up in Bukoto, Kampala and then moved to Naguru during my high school. I wouldn’t say I moved around a lot per say. I went through primary and then boarding just like any other child. Yes, this helped in my success indirectly because it gave my parents the stability they needed to provide for me and empower me. In regards to me as a person, I adapt to changes in my living environment quite easily because to me it’s all a learning curve. ‘Adapt or Die’
CR: Which schools did you go to?
Lynette: I went to Kampala Parents School aka KPS before it went under new management. In my days competition and punishment was the lifestyle, ha-ha. I got my fair share of punishment, not that it is what got me my results no, I excel because I want to and not in fear of punishment. I then went to Taibah College School for my O’level. This is where I learned some of the key values I still hold on to dearly. I remember the three Cs, Creativity, Critical thinking and Confidence that are still part of my mantra today. I went to Greenhill Academy for my A’level where I studied PEM/A. It was a very huge change from my TCS life but I adapted. I then took a year out and started a small magazine called K’Glam that I believe gave birth to online magazines in Uganda. I have included it because I learned a lot about business and developed my work ethic here. The following year, I went on to do a Foundation Certificate in Science and Engineering at Liverpool International College and lastly a BEng in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Liverpool.
CR: While in school, how many hours did you put in to read and study?
Lynette: How much I studied varied throughout my educational time. I worked really hard in primary because of the extreme workload we hard to take home every day. My O’level was less stressful and well balanced so prep time, assignments, nothing over the top. My A’level was the peak of the normal distribution curve. I worked overtime because of some unfortunate events that occurred and the general nature of my combination. University life was a breeze till my third year where I had to work overtime because the workload was not intense per say but very technical and required great attention to detail.
CR: What or who inspired you to take on engineering as a field of study?
Lynette: I am not one of those people that made paper planes and knew what I wanted to do as a child. That answer for me changed a couple of times as I grew up. My decision making point in life was after I finished my A’level. I love mathematics and physics therefore engineering was the only course that was going to give me a healthy portion of both. When asked why I had chosen to pursue a degree in Aerospace Engineering my answer was always the same; ‘I believe I know a little bit about every other form of engineering but know nothing about aerospace.’ I’d always been known to have a futuristic mentality and while this particular idea had been drawn from a childhood cartoon, my next statement would almost always be, ‘I believe the future is in the air and personal transport will eventually be partly if not completely by air.’ And contrary to the popular engineer’s saying, ‘Follow the path of least resistance’, I have a knack for challenges and had no doubt in my career choice.
CR: Has there been any defining moment in life that made you choose that direction in life?
Lynette: The first time I flew on a plane. It was in my final year of A’level and I had to fly to Zambia for my sister’s wedding. I was slightly nervous but God must have been looking out for me because we had the most skilled pilot. Taxi and take off were done to perfection and I almost didn’t feel the transition. I had a wing window seat that day and it remains my favourite seat to date. I watched the aerodynamic surfaces move the whole flight and remember sitting there wondering how everything really worked. It all made very little sense to me, how such a heavy structure could be supported by wheels half its size and fly. That was the moment, I had to find out, I had to know.
CR: You are Uganda’s Second Aerospace Engineer after Winnie Byanyima, How does it feel?
Lynette: It’s so surreal, hasn’t really sunk in. I’m extremely happy but at the same time I feel like I am not where I need to be yet. It is only the beginning, a baby step in the right direction. I feel extremely blessed because of all that has brought me to this date, for getting through all that. I also have some very big shoes to fill, because Winnie Byanyima’s is a story to be revered. Her accomplishments are a huge inspiration for me. I am honoured to follow such greatness. So I feel the pressure to achieve great things but at the same time I hold on to the fact that God has already carefully crafted my success and all I have to do is my best and trust in him. I can’t fully describe the feeling but it is an amazing and thrilling feeling.
CR: What challenges did you face as a female taking on a science course throughout school?
Lynette: In University, I didn’t really face any because more females are taking on STEM subjects in the UK. Don’t get me wrong, there were about 8 girls in my class but we were not made to feel any less than the boys. In high school, the challenges were more significant because of the outdated and conservative way of thinking we have at home. The ‘boys do the harder subjects better’ kind of thinking. I was in a constant fight with the stereotype but in a way it is one of the reasons I am where I am today. I remember being told to move to the arts class by one of my teachers because in truth I excelled at those subjects but mostly it was because I was from Taibah College and the ‘smart’ kids (boys) are from government schools. Nevertheless, I topped my class that term and put that noise to rest. The challenges were never a setback for me because I thrive off them.
CR: Now that you have graduated, what is next?
Lynette: Well, my country has a very special place in my heart. My heart cries for the vast potential we carry but overlook each day simply because the system does not accommodate it. So I have great plans for the aerospace industry and engineering as a whole in Uganda. Before I do that however, I’m starting a Masters at Imperial College London in Advanced Aeronautical Engineering. I hope to work with aero engines after this as they are my favourite branch of aerospace. Then bring all my experience home and empower others and the country as a whole. This is all of course, if God allows it.
CR: Any job offers yet? Where do you hope to work?
Lynette: I’ve taken a couple of meetings with prospective employers and people in the industry but no definitive job offers yet. I should have some in when my Masters is completed. I hope to work for Rolls Royce because they make aero engines however, Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, BAE systems are all close seconds. I’m not too picky with the company as long as I am working in the field I love. I never want work to feel like a chore.
CR: Which advice do you give to all the young girls aspiring to be Aerospace engineers?
Lynette: Life is not easy, there are short cuts yes, but they bring short lived happiness. You will always face challenges if you are reaching for great heights, don’t let them break you, live learn grow and carry your scars with pride. If I can do it, so can you. I’ve worked hard to get where I am and all it takes is persistence and perseverance. You can do anything you set your mind to and no one can tell you what you are capable of doing, refuse to be labeled and categorized. Ha-ha, it sounds like I am inspiring a revolution but it will take a lot of hard work and determination. Above all this, God comes first so lean not on your own understanding but trust in him. He always comes through.
CR: Doing such a course as Engineering must have kept you busy; did you get off any time for a social life like dating?
Lynette: The course was a full time investment but I have very understanding friends that knew when to let me work and when to snap me out of the work to relax. I always take time off to live life as I mentioned before. I like to believe I have a healthy balance. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from social life too.
CR: What is your relationship status? (I am sure men would kill for this answer)
Lynette: Ha-ha, relationship status? I have healthy relationships with my friends, family and God.
CR: How do you manage to balance school and social life?
Lynette: It all comes down to time management and discipline. Work time and play time are clearly defined and I respect those boundaries. Having supportive and understanding friends that know me quite well helped too.
CR: How do you spend your free time? What are your hobbies?
Lynette: I love to read books, it’ll take me a long time to finish one because of my crazy schedule but I will finish it eventually. Music speaks to my soul and I am a lover of music so different genres work for different moments even while I study. I love to take time off alone and just watch TV shows or documentaries because we all need time to ourselves aka turndown time. Travelling, museums, ART! I love to learn and absorb new cultures embrace new experiences and when I can afford to I fully immerse myself. I could go on and on but I’ll leave it at that.
CR: Tell us something about you that most people don’t readily know.
Lynette: Hmmm, this is a tough one. I usually leave that for the people that take the time to know me. Not sure if it’s fair for me to give up something that major but I’ll just say I love people, I love to help, I love to give back.
CR: Are there any misconceptions people have about you that you know of?
Lynette: I’m a Mukiga, so I’m sometimes aggressive and direct when I speak so if you don’t know me too well you might think I am rude or scary even ha-ha. Misconceptions don’t bother me much because the people that truly care know who I am. At the end of the day you can never really please everyone. You have to do what brings you happiness.
CR: Last but not least, how do you plan to keep being a role model for girls especially in Uganda?
Lynette: I plan to live my life to the fullest and turn my dreams into a reality. I am the second female aerospace engineer, girls in Uganda should aspire to do greater than that and forge their own paths based on their own personal dreams.
CR: Finally, what should Uganda expect from you as an Aerospace engineer?
Lynette: Like I mentioned earlier, Uganda should expect change, growth and development. It might be very tough but I plan on giving it my all when the time comes. I have a lot of plans so all I can do now is pray and carefully prepare for their execution.
Source * chimpreports.com
By: Monica Nabaasa