Guest Post: Sophie’s experience in Silicon Valley

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Sophie tells of her experience being part of the  TECHWOMEN program .

Sophie is an ambitious, hardworking, friendly and forward thinking married mother of four children. Sophie completed her professional studies at the National Advanced School of Public Works in Yaounde where she studied rural engineering. She also attended the Advanced Teachers College for Technical Education (ENSET) in Douala for two years where she trained to be a civil engineer teacher. Sophie taught for ten years at a Technical School.She is an avid promoter of the Youth Vocational Technical Training and Entrepreneurship Development Center (CYEED) based in Bamenda. Sophie loves her country and has lived in Mankon for the past 10 years.

Twitter: @SophieNgassa

Facebook: Sophie Ngassa Fon Nsoh

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TechWomen is a professional mentorship and exchange program developed in response to President Obama’s efforts to strengthen relations between the United States and the Middle East and North Africa.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton first announced the TechWomen initiative on April 28, 2010 during President Obama’s Entrepreneurship Summit. In June 2011, TechWomen launched with 37 participants from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and the Palestinian Territories. In 2012, the program expanded to include women from Tunsia and Yemen. In 2013, the cohort doubled in size with the addition of women from Cameroon, Kenya, Libya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.


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Making it to the TECHWOMEN program is one of the most amazing things that has happened in my professional carrier. Living in Silicon Valley for 6 weeks is a life changing experience. Interacting with 78 unique and intelligent women from 16 counties with diverse Technical and cultural backgrounds was extraordinary. TECHWOMEN is an Initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs which empowers, connects, and supports the next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

It all started when I was preparing my application while I was 7 months pregnant. A few months later I happily received an email congratulating me for my selection for the TECHWOMEN program. Later on, i attended the interview at the US Embassy with a 4 months old baby girl. Thanks to my lovely mum who assisted me in babysitting. Then I made the long trip to California leaving young baby with my mother. It was a very challenging decision to take.

The TECHWOMEN program is really a high level exchange program because every emerging leader as we were called   had 2 mentors; a cultural and a professional mentor. This created a big, fast and complete learning opportunity. I lived in the beautiful  neighborhood of Mountain View and I was hosted by Santa Clara university in the Frugal innovation Lab for 4 weeks. In this lab students learn within the labs well as interact with field-based social entrepreneurs and global partners to resolve real-world problems.

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 In my host company I worked closely with my mentor on a Clean Water project. I am passionate about making clean water accessible to as many women as possible in my community. My goal is to significantly improve access to safe, adequate and reliable water supply in my community.  Back in Cameroon I look forward to create a non- profit organization to serve as  a platform for women to convene to become professional leaders and bring clean water to their communities  and receive training on Water, Hygiene and Sanitation. As well as promoting other women’s priority issues lile to facilitate and increase women’s access to information in areas of STEM.

I received a lot of motivation from my mentors especially when they shared their own paths to success including the challenges they faced on their way up the ladder to great achievements. Thanks to my wonderful mentors for making it happens by spending valuable time with me.

Everyday was a new opportunity especially when I visited the Santa Clara Water District and other technology companies like Twitter, LinkedIn, Twitter, Symantec, Face book, Google  etc. I also attended the Global Humanitarian Conference in Californian. I can’t stop thinking of the very inspiring “Silicon Valley “ which is the hub of technology where brilliant ideas are created to make life easy.  Innovative ideas are created to solve problems and the entrepreneurship spirit that drives the economy. This program has acted like a spring board to taking me closer to my dreams, bring our hidden potentials in me and It has also increased my network.

During this journey my husband was very supportive. On my return my 4 kids made very positive remarks of their great dad. In fact men need to partner with and advocate for women in Technology in order to open for more women to enter and stay in the STEM field.