Angeline Keptchou Doya
I’m from Douala, a coastal city in Cameroon. It is home to 5 million brave people. Douala is my place of birth. I remember my childhood, my high school years. When I was growing up, I spent my childhood years admiring and indulging in all the beautiful things my city and country could offer: its rich culture and history, the traditional dances, the unique cuisines, the landscape, and most importantly the people. As I was growing up, I began to perceive the challenges my country and its people were going through. The conditions of my home country would many times leave me dejected. One of the challenges my country was facing that was directly impacting me was the electricity shortage. Although I was living in one of the country’s biggest cities, electricity shortages were part of my daily life. The shortages created challenges for me in revising my lessons after school, adding more expenses to my family’s budget because of the need to purchase kerosene or candles to light our home for us to revise our lessons. As a child, I had a passion for handy work, putting tools together to see how they work, and I remember one time breaking my dad’s radio because I was curious to see how it worked. Soon, I started joining my dad on the weekend in his mechanic workshop, trying to touch everything although he would shout at me not to. My dream was to be able to build a kind of machine that would solve most of my problems if not all. In high school, I fell in love with engineering classes. On weekends, I would try to practice in my dad ‘shop whatever I learned during the week in my engineering class. And as I was growing, I started feeling that I could do something good to help my community. I was feeling a call to action, a call to try to build a better city, a better country, a better world.
“And as I was growing, I started feeling that I could do something good to help my community. I was feeling a call to action, a call to try to build a better city, a better country, a better world.”
In 2017, I was pursuing my first degree in electrical engineering when I was notified that I won an opportunity to travel and reside in the USA. This particular news might not seem like a big deal for many, but for me and for many people from the place I come from, it is a breakthrough and life-changing news. After a few days of joy and excitement, I came back to face what it means to leave my place of birth, my family, and everything I’m used to, to travel to an unknown land where I knew no one and could not even speak their language. I started to become scared, doubtful, and nervous about all kinds of things. Now that I had the opportunity, I began to wonder if it was even possible for me to travel across the world. The USA is 12000km from Cameroon, and it takes almost two days to travel there. Things such as the cost of living, how hard I would have to work to achieve my dreams, and my family being in Cameroon without me now began to bog me down, and I was nothing short of overwhelmed by all those emotions. My Dad came to me trying to support and encourage me. He told me how traveling that road nobody has ever done in our family, accepting and facing all the challenges, the language barrier, and the unknown could only bring a great life to me and the opportunity to get a better education and live my dreams. My family was very supportive and gave me all kinds of motivational speeches, and prayers. They inspired me to follow through on coming to the United States. I started putting together a plan for that new chapter of my life and set the goal to pursue my electrical engineering study in the US and become an electrical engineer.
When I first arrived in America, I was blown away by everything in sight. What stood out to me was the architecture, and how organized the cities are compared to my hometown and the people. I had seen the USA on TV and in movies back home, but seeing everything in person was just such a different experience. The excitement didn’t last long this time as well.
“With the opportunity which I have been given to be an IEC 2to4 scholar and to learn here at Howard University a Black excellent school, I want to excel in my leadership by going out to impact and serve the community work in the real world. “
Moving to America came with many challenges. As I mentioned earlier, I grew up in a French-speaking region of Cameroon, so I barely knew a few words in English. I had to learn the language first, and then I had to learn the accent, which is not the easiest part. I also had to work to pay for my living expenses and at the same time pursue my dream of becoming an electrical engineer. So, I had to enroll in evening classes at Montgomery College. I’m not sure which is the most difficult challenge I have faced since I came to the USA, because a lot of them almost made me abandon my dreams. But I did not, not because I’m a particularly strong person; no, I’m just a little girl from Cameroon trying to become an electrical engineer. Thinking of who I am, where I came from, and what I want to do helps me overcome all these challenges. Because for that little girl, abandoning my dreams is off the table.
I can remember taking mathematics, physics classes, and English at the beginning. It was such a trauma. I barely understood what was going on; I couldn’t stand up to it, I was lost, and no one was there to help. In my bed in the night, I cried and decided to quit. But that little girl would be again at the bus stop the next day, with the cold she is not used to, trying to catch a bus to go back to class. Fast forward, even with my barely understandable English, I started making some friendships. For two years, I was able to overcome this challenge by gathering friends who spoke English and having them help me navigate the language barrier and the schoolwork. I was also blessed to find so many resources available at the Community College to better my English and move fast in my classes. A big thank you to Montgomery College. My mathematics, my physics, and any other classes are no longer a problem.
While at Montgomery College, for a two-year A.S. in Electrical Engineering major, I had the opportunity through my school to have a winter retreat experience with the University of Maryland where I will come in contact with different companies such as the CIA, Gore Tech, L3 Harris, Apple, Northrop Grumman, etc. I started feeling the dream coming true soon; my wildest dream couldn’t associate me with those big companies when I was in Cameroon. That program opened my connection with Howard University. During the winter retreat, I had the opportunity to interact with brilliant and driven students, which gave me the desire to come to their school. From there, I started my research about Howard University — where it is situated, how is the education system, what is their motto, and how do they impact the lives of students who study there? I had so many questions on my mind. My research left me amazed and my professor Dr, Catravas advised was just a touch on the cake well served. By the end of the winter retreat workshop, I was positively impacted by those students. I created connections with them on LinkedIn, and they are part of the reason why my desire to go to Howard University is still lighting my heart and my eyes. I believe Howard is the right place for me, where I will be able to grow the way, I want to and where I will develop the skills to pursue my life goals. I also want to pursue my four years of electrical engineering at Howard University because I value not only the recognition that Howard University has in both, the academic community and the professional world, but also the diversity and inclusion that Howard University offers. It speaks to me as a Black female immigrant pursuing her dream of becoming an Electrical Engineer.
“I also want to pursue my four years of electrical engineering at Howard University because I value not only the recognition that Howard University has in both, the academic community and the professional world, but also the diversity and inclusion that Howard University offers. It speaks to me as a Black female immigrant pursuing her dream of becoming an Electrical Engineer. “
With the opportunity which I have been given to be an IEC 2to4 scholar and to learn here at Howard University a Black excellent school, I want to excel in my leadership by going out to impact and serve the community work in the real world. As I dreamed before coming to America, I then plan on utilizing the opportunity I have gotten to help assist many of my family members as well as friends back in my birth country and in my home country America. As a Citizen of this country, I plan to develop and shared my skill and knowledge and with the right support, provide Americans and many African countries and the world to have an opportunity to get an advanced education on new technologies and have access to basic things such as electricity, healthcare, food, and transportation. I am confident that the IEC 2to4 scholar will be my next chance and opportunity to make this dream come to reality.
The Inclusive Engineering Consortium (IEC) aims to inspire and support future leaders in electrical and computer engineering graduating from historically minority-serving institutions. The 2to4 Scholarship serves to help students make a seamless transition from 2-year college programs to graduating with a bachelor’s degree and beyond. Eligible students may be awarded up to $10,000 in tuition plus stipend support.