I am Salmah Alhassan, and I am on an extraordinary path of self-discovery and growth. Before joining the African Science Academy (ASA), I spent three months teaching in a Muslim school. Following the demise of my father, the mantle of responsibility fell upon my sisters and me. Mindful not to burden my senior brother, ASA emerged as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to pursue my academic aspirations.
Last year, I was granted a life-changing opportunity—a full scholarship to ASA, thanks to the COSARAF Foundation. I extend my deepest gratitude to them for the financial support and belief in my potential. Without this opportunity, I would not be where I am today, my hope is that everyone supporting me continues to champion the education of girls like me.
My journey at ASA has been a tapestry of profound learning. ASA stands out as an institution where teachers genuinely care about their students’ academic progress, providing a supportive environment—a stark contrast to my previous educational experiences. The prospect of teaching at home with limited academic advancement would have been my reality, but ASA changed the trajectory of my life. The impact on my educational journey is immeasurable. The knowledge acquired at ASA serves as the bedrock for my dream to study computer science and has equipped me with the knowledge foundational to university-level computer science studies. My peers, from various walks of life, have been supportive, creating a collaborative and enriching learning environment.
The diverse and supportive community of peers has broadened my perspective and enhanced my tech-savvy skills. Beyond conventional academics, I’ve also cultivated essential life skills such as patience and resilience.
My time here at ASA involves engaging in volunteer community work. Alongside my peers, I actively contribute by sharing the knowledge we acquire at ASA through teaching at schools. This not only reinforces my own understanding but also significantly contributes to the broader educational community. It’s a collaborative effort that not only enhances our learning experience but also empowers others too.
My dream extends beyond pursuing computer science at the university level. In an era of fast-developing technology, I am determined to ensure no one is left behind. Beyond my career aspirations, my dream is to utilize computer science knowledge to teach my community. My STEM journey gave me a passion to give back, sharing technology knowledge and the fundamentals of computer science back home. This experience is a life-changing experience, and I am committed to making a positive impact on my community and beyond.
Before ASA, societal norms and stereotypes, even within my family, posed challenges to my STEM journey.
Despite discouragement, especially from my brother, who questioned the suitability of computer science as a career path for a woman, I persevered. This experience only fuelled my determination to continue to pursue my passion and I want to inspire many girls wishing to embark on STEM journeys.
One memory from ASA holds particular significance. There was a time in class when I solved a problem correctly, but the process was all wrong. My teacher’s advice on that day stuck with me—to be meticulous, to do things with perfection and excellence. I apply this principle to my life, ordering my steps, and with excellence.
To those facing challenges, I offer the advice to trust the journey, work hard, and stay focused. This journey is transformative, and every challenge is an opportunity for growth.