The Journey of Lynn Kirabo
Lynn Kirabo, a second year MSIT student at Carnegie Mellon University’s Rwandan based Center of Excellence, knew she wanted to be involved in ICT when she was just six years old, when her primary school teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Excitedly, she went to her father to ask him what people are called who work with computers and for years when people asked her what she wanted to do in the future, she shared with him her father’s answer: be a computer wizard.
Over the years as she grew up, the title of what her dream job changed but the passion for ICT did not. The Ugandan native committed herself to chasing her dream of not just “complaining about the system, [instead] help discover solutions to mend them,” through disruptive ICT solutions. Lynn received her undergraduate degree with a Bachelor’s of Information Technology, where she fell in love with web development, going on to have a successful seven year career as the Interactive Coordinator for a dynamic international NGO based from Kampala.
However, Lynn wanted to have more impact than just being a web developer, she wanted to be a change maker. She knew that she needed more advanced skills if she was going to be capable to build the sort of computer programs that she dreamed about. She came across Carnegie Mellon University’s Center of Excellence in Rwanda through a simple Google search for software engineering universities in Rwanda and was impressed with how it didn’t portray itself as a place that was just going to deliver a master’s degree, but instead was a place that would rigorously teach her the skill sets to implement her dreams.
The journey to CMU for Lynn was not easy. The week that interviews were scheduled for was the same week that her father, the man who told her her the term ‘computer wizard’ and supported her at every step of her academic pursuit, passed away. Lynn says that she was “literally at a crossroads, asking should I continue with this master’s dream that was essentially my father’s passion, or should I not?” Deciding that it was simply not the right time to make the journey from Uganda to Rwanda, Lynn sent an email informing the Rwandese CMU administrators that she would not be able to attend her interview. However, with flexibility and ingenuity from both Lynn, and Carnegie Mellon taking into account the special circumstances, a Skype interview was arranged that she successfully completed, enabling her to become a Master of Science in Information Technology student at Carnegie Mellon.
Now in her final year and able to reflect on the future that her degree will enable, Lynn is sure that her “country, Uganda, will be an even better place because [she] studied at CMU in Rwanda. CMUR has helped me grow in so many areas to the extent that I think even my thinking has changed. From learning how to use digital information to make business decisions, to writing applications and learning about security, I literally feel like I have been empowered to change the world.” She is sure that she will not just live her, but embody her father’s dream of his daughter growing up to be a ‘computer wizard’ as well.
CMU in Rwanda
MSIT Program in Rwanda