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#STEMStories: Zani Gichuki, an engineer from Kenya

Zani Gichuki is an engineer from Kenya, she works on designing a school that encourages active learning. Zani finds engineering career rewarding because it allows her to utilise her problem solving skills. She agreed to share her story with the Geeky Girl Reality community.

Say hi :) who are you what do you do?

I'm Zani, and I'm a graduate civil/structural engineer. Right now I'm a fellow at the African Design Center doing the engineering design of a primary school that is supposed to encourage active learning.

How did you arrive at this career? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do?

I kind of just fell into it by accident but I'm glad I did. I've always enjoyed math and physics so I assumed it was kind of a natural track to follow but I've learned that engineering is about more than numbers and forces, it's also about problem-solving, research and judgement.

What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark winter mornings?

The opportunity to learn something new or to come up with a solution to a persisting problem.

What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story?

I rely on my friends and family a lot to lift my spirits, sometimes you just need to take a short break from the world and come back when you're refreshed. I also recommend dancing and science fiction, they're great for taking a break. I don't have a specific story though.

Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this?

My main role model is my mum. It sounds cliché but she's been one of my biggest supporters and I always look to her for advice and strength. The other role model I currently have is Wangari Maathai. She was a scholar, activist and pioneer, I hope to be as fierce as she was in pursuing what she lived.

What advice would you give to your 18 year old self?

I would tell myself to be less fearful of following up on ideas and opportunities that may not seem easy to push forward. I'd advise myself to allow myself to fail more and understand that perfection does not exist. Fear of failure is limiting. I’d also tell myself that at the end of the day no one cares more about your life and what you’re doing than you, so don’t worry so much about what other people think.

How do you measure your success?

I measure it by how much more I have learned and how well I can share what I have.