Towera Moyo, 22, from Moffat Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Kaluluma in Kasungu, is a young computer engineer who has won the 2020 Rhodes Trust Scholarship to study at Oxford University.
The young woman, a systems and software engineer at Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM), will study for a Masters and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at Oxford University, the top most university in the United Kingdom (UK).
Upon return after her social data science studies, she says she would like to work in the public sector, closely with government in implementing data driven technology solutions that solve some of the challenges the country is facing in areas such as the health and agriculture sectors.
Aside from working in the public sector, Towera says she would also like to share the knowledge she will gain from the university by conducting lectures, trainings and conferences in some of the universities around the country.
“Such trainings can be very important for people wishing to pursue data science careers,” she explains.
Towera also plans to work with organisations such as mHub and TechPearl where they can set up mentorship and training programmes for girls who want to pursue science related courses.
But one would wonder how she took the news of her scholarship, considering that many would only dream of schooling at Oxford University.
She says the news felt so surreal.
“There were eight other highly qualified candidates at the interviews and I could not believe that I was the winner of the scholarship. It took a considerable amount of time before it sank in that I had actually won the scholarship. It was a dream come true; it was always my plan to pursue post graduate studies after a year or two of working so that I could specialise in one area,” she explains.
She adds that it has always been her dream to study at Oxford University and that winning the scholarship to study there is an indescribable feeling.
However, she was quick to say that it was also a bitter sweet moment for her.
“I would have loved my father to witness the moment I won the scholarship because he encouraged me to apply for it and also helped with the application process in the weeks before his death,” she says.
In 2004 at just seven, she lost her mother. She and her elder brother Khumbo were then raised by her father, the late Humpreys Moyo who passed away in August 2019.
Towera graduated from University of Malawi, The Polytechnic, in March 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems with a distinction.
However, becoming a computer scientist or engineer was not something she always wanted while growing up as her dream was to become a lawyer or an accountant.
But her family has a couple of computer engineers who inspired her to study a computer related course in college.
“I saw the kind of technology solutions such as software systems that they were working on and was very interested. So I made Management Information Systems my second option when applying for university entrance,” she explains.
Towera says she got fascinated with the many innovations one could implement with computer skills and also realised her skills for programming while at school and during her internship at mHub after her first-year of college studies.
“I developed websites and software systems while working at mHub and this is what increased my passion for building innovations through technology solutions,” says the young woman.
Born on March 2 1997 at St. Luke’s Mission Hospital in Zomba, Towera spent her childhood in the old capital before moving to Lilongwe in 2004.
She attained her Primary School Leaving
Certificate (PSLC) from Cherub Private School in Lilongwe
and the Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) at Marymount Girls Catholic Secondary School in Mzuzu.
The major challenge she had while growing up she says, was life without her mother.
“It was very hard being in school with a lot of children talking about their mothers. It used to be a very hard topic growing up, but thankfully I had a supportive father who was always there for me in ways a mother should be.
“I recently also lost my father three months ago. He was my inspiration and continues to be. I was shortlisted for the interviews for the scholarship two months after he passed away and I saw it as an opportunity to make him proud,” says Towera.
Work-wise, she says her biggest challenge has been working in a male dominated field with most people assuming that men are better than women.
“This just made me work harder and prove myself capable,” she says.
She encourages the youth, especially girls, to work hard and believe in their dreams.
“One can pursue any career they want and achieve great things regardless of their gender or background. Having clearly set goals and plans, working hard and consistently towards them will enable you to achieve your dreams,” she advises.
She adds that it is also important to always put God first when pursuing goals in life and trust Him as they go along the journey of life.
Towera also highlights the significance of having mentors to help with guidance in different areas of life and help in achieving goals.
“Many successful people have mentors because they see the many benefits that come with having someone who guides and holds them accountable to their plans,” says the second born of three children.