Happy Saturday Reigners! We’re always excited to grow our community internationally, which is why we’re thrilled to introduce you to Stellah Rotich. Stella hails from Kenya where she quickly realized the need for girls’ education around computer science. Read on to see how she is working to fill that need, how the community is helping her achieve her goals, and why we consider her a true entrepreneur with a heartfelt mission.
Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
My name is Stellah Rotich and I founded chepnet.org, a community-based organization that seeks to advance the proficiency of rural women in technology and to invite and inspire more girls to pursue careers in STEM. We aspire to improving women and girls’ livelihoods through the use of technology by training and equipping them with digital literacy skills, introducing them to programming, and how to practically apply these skills in their day-to-day operations.
Why did I decide to start Chepnet.org? I was awarded a scholarship by the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing to attend GHC14 through the Anita Borg Institute. This was a life changing experience: I met thousands of women from around the world who were doing amazing things in tech.
I somehow got challenged and then wondered: how many among these participants are from Kenya? It was likely only me from my community and I wished for girls in my community to have a chance to see all the amazing projects teen girls were having. I asked myself, “Why is it that our girls don’t even know the power of a computer?” Then I decided to do something small and see how it goes: if it helped then I would scale.
It has been a wonderful experience; through fellowship support from Akili Dada I have grown both as a leader and in my project too. I am currently working to register as a National organization so that we can work far beyond the borders in Kenya.
Fun fact: I am photogenic: if it was possible I would capture every moment of my life. I have more that 100,000 photos of myself and have downloaded millions of other photos which I keep going through in my free time.
I work as a management trainee at Kenya Revenue Authority and look forward to moving to a technical services department later this year after I am done with training.I am so passionate about community development through the use of technology.
Favorite website / app:
Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted (if any):
Bethany Mota. Her journey from her first video on YouTube up to who she is now is amazing.She preaches positivity & loving yourself which makes my day everyday. Others are Juliana Rotich and Courtney Thurston: both have done so much and this drives me to work even harder knowing that so much is achievable. These two women have proven it to the world.
Song that makes you want to dance:
Uro Uro by Kimeto; it’s a local song and I can’t get enough of it.
Technical challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
My system restored my PC in my second year and I had not backed it up, ultimately losing my undergraduate project that I had been working on for months. I worked with friends to come up with the project within the shortest time possible.
Professor of Computer Science at an institution of higher learning.
What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
I got introduced to Computer Science so late in my career and have developed a passion for it over time. Wishing I knew more about it in the past, I would like to see more girls code while still in high school and choose technical fields out of passion after they have engaged with it.