Guest post by Aderonke Sakpere, 2023 Emerging Leader of Nigeria who is heading to Chicago.
Editor’s note: Aderonke Sakpere’s guest post is part of our series, Emerging Leader Voices, which invites TechWomen Emerging Leaders to share their voice, perspective and experiences with the TechWomen community.
It’s always tempting to believe that as a bright student or leader, one’s dreams will come easily. In my 12-year journey as an academic and technology researcher, I’ve come to realize that resilience often counts far more than sheer intelligence. Even gaining selection into TechWomen required enduring five rounds of applications. This is my story of how and why I never gave up until I was selected to become a TechWomen Emerging Leader in 2023.
So, what did I do in the midst of these rejections?
First, I realized that my dream of bridging the gender gap in technology needed to be turned into something tangible. This compelled me to start the Tech Girls Club in 2019.
The inaugural meeting attracted over 30 girls. With just $40 dollars in funding, I leveraged my network to secure a keynote speaker in IT management and giveaways for the participants from MTN, Nigeria, a major telecommunications company.
Secondly, I pursued collaborations with individuals, industries and NGOs that shared the vision of the newly founded club. In four years of existence, we have collaborated with 16 different organizations, organized four boot camps, and held over 10 high school and university talks aimed at bridging the gender gap in tech. Since inception, we have impacted over 2000 girls.
Thirdly, I continued to grow my professional and leadership skills. I achieved this by participating in mentorships opportunities provided by organizations such as MIT and Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. The Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation recognized my potential and offered me mentorship and scientific exchange with Nobel Laureates. Through these opportunities, I created KoEde, a platform that uses gamification to facilitate children’s learning of African indigenous languages. Additionally, I co-founded the Lindau Mentorship Hub, which connects young scientists to leading mentors in their fields of need.
This post is dedicated to those who have made multiple attempts to secure opportunities but continue to face rejection. Don’t give up. Turn your dreams from mere thoughts and musings into actionable steps, even if it means starting small. Keep on growing and seeking collaboration and growth opportunities. And always remember:
“Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.”
– Angela Duckworth, American psychologist, author and academic