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Nickita Ishimwe Mukundwa

MSc in Network and Information Security, Griffith College Limerick

Nickita worked as a high school computer science teacher in the Rutsiro District of Rwanda before receiving an Ireland Fellows Programme award to study Network and Information Security in Griffith College Limerick.  

My organizations will not be the same now that I have the skills and information I gained from the fellowship. My students will have better practical knowledge, and the abilities I gained in Ireland will aid my organization.

I am from Rwanda, the very best country in Africa. I was a high school computer science teacher (specifically Networking). As a result, I met a variety of people from various backgrounds. Working in one of Rwanda's three poorest districts (Rutsiro District), I faced the difficulty of girls being underrepresented in technical education compared to boys. The reasons were many, but the most important were school dropouts due to a lack of menstrual pads and the societal assumption that technical education is only for boys.  

As the head of the Computer Science Department, I created the "GirlsTechOver" group, in which girls and their brothers were required to go into the neighbourhoods around the school to handle various computer maintenance difficulties in order to obtain some income and experience at the same time. We divided the money into two parts: One portion would be used to purchase menstrual pads for underprivileged girls, while the other would be used to assist those who cannot afford school fees. Not only that, but students returned to their homes and spread the good news, which influenced their parents' perceptions and attracted additional girls to our school. This resulted in an increase of 80% in the number of girls at our school by the end of the year. 

I chose to study Network and Information Security because, it has always been a dream of mine to improve my ability to comprehend and build methods to address ICT concerns in my community. It is my passion that people in my country know how to secure and manage their information. Therefore, by the end the course I will have enough skills to share back to my community. Another reason is that I would like to show other young women that not only men can do technical education, but women can also.  

This fellowship has been quite beneficial to me. I'm learning a lot of new abilities with higher technology that I hope to bring these new skills back to my nation when I finish my master's degree. Not only did I gain ICT skills, but also economic, social, and cultural dimensions. I have been introduced to a variety of technological materials at Griffith College Limerick. My leadership abilities, public speaking abilities, and writing abilities have all improved since the start of this fellowship. Another skill I learnt is computer forensics, which is still lacking in my nation, so you may discover that justice is not fully served as it should be due to a lack of critical evidence. 

The cold weather and the food were the first things I had to acclimatize to when I arrived in Ireland. The medical system was also not easy, since finding a walk-in health facility was difficult, and I was told I needed to find a general practitioner, but everyone around me was turning away new patients. But, as time passed, I was able to adjust. 

I must also confess that Ireland's organizational and cultural setup is incredible. I can connect to it because the people here are quite nice, and I was able to adjust fast. Another thing I enjoy is the lovely architecture and scenery. I really admire how old structures, such as cathedrals, have been preserved for future generations to see. I admire how generous people are. 

There are a few differences between Ireland and Rwanda. Most things have changed since Rwanda adopted a technology-based economy. I learned a lot that I will take home after being introduced to Ireland's higher technology. Ireland has smart cities, which I'd like to introduce to the rest of East Africa. Technology is a big difference between my country Rwanda and Ireland. My country is developing but it still has a long way to go. Ireland has smart cities whereby there are Closed-Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV) and this helps to control most of the movements that take place around the cities. There are smart buses as well where people can easily know where they have reached by simply checking at the smart board in the buses. As people are waiting for the buses at bus-stops, they can see when the next bus is coming. These are some of the things I have found my country needs, and I would love to make sure my community is developed on that level too.   

In terms of future development for my country, I wish to help integrate innovation and technology into the livelihoods of all Rwandan communities, as well as, perhaps, other African communities. I wish to highlight the importance of ICT in encouraging sustainable development and raise the number of women in ICT by incorporating technology into their daily lives. On a personal level, in keeping with my academic goals, I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in Network Security, but my immediate objective is to finish my MSc in Network and Information Security so that I can better comprehend my long-term goal for the link between technology and development in Rwandan communities. 

I would strongly encourage others to take part in the Ireland Fellows Programme. I am confident that they will acquire new skills and knowledge that will aid in the development of their country. Candidates who wish to apply for the Ireland Fellowship should work hard because it will provide them with access to high-quality education and will enable them to enhance their skills and knowledge in novel ways.