FROM DESIRING TO BE A NEURO – SURGEON TO STUDYING INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY, FALLING IN LOVE WITH IT& THRIVING THROUGH IT
Meet Julia Muiruri – A Technical Mentor & Co – Founder of Rhions Lab
“If you would have asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would have said a neuro-surgeon because there was something that lit up a spark in me whenever I would hear people talk about medicine, treatment, surgery, saving lives and the part that fascinated me the most was delivering the happy news of a successful surgery to a family that was at the verge of giving up. I considered myself to be a smart girl and I would always visualize myself in a white coat, pair of spectacles (at least I got this because my sight is not that good) with medical records in my hands setting out to save lives. After graduating from High School however, I didn’t meet the required cut off mark to pursue medicine and I remember for a second there, I was very disappointed in myself. The worst part was that I had not really thought about an alternative career. I welcomed different opinions on the ‘best and most marketable course to do’ back then and finally I had to decide. This process was a great lesson for me; take all the advice you can but be sure to make the decision yourself. After evaluating my options, I settled on taking Information Technology only because from the research I did, there was a possibility of diving back into the medical field from an IT perspective because of how diverse the course is. Given that Dedan KimathiUniversity of Technology is listed as one of the best universities for technical courses and engineering, I chose to pursue my course here and after understanding in depth what IT can do in today’s world, I just fell in love with the impact I can have in the world through technology. If given the chance to pursue medicine, guess what – I’d pass. I just feel like I was meant for what I do today.” – Julia Muiruri
Julia graduated barely two months ago, on 17th December, 2021 with a degree in Information Technology (IT) but by the time of her graduation, she had made several strides in the tech space including being a co – founder of Rhions Lab; a startup that was born from project WildEye_KE which got Julia and her two partners to the top 10 finalists list in the 2020 Imagine Cup Europe, Middle & East Africa (EMEA) region under the mentorship of Dr. Ciira Maina; a Senior Lecturer in the department of Electrical & Electronics Engineering and a Data Scientist (currently the Director, Center for Data Science & Artificial Intelligence) and Mr. Kenneth Njihia, the immediate past Project Coordinator of the University’s Innovation and Incubation Hub (DeHUB). Rhions Lab startup was incorporated in October 2020 and last year (in 2021), Julia led her team to participating in the Kenya National Innovation Agency Competition where they emerged winners in the Manufacturing, Engineering and ICT category winning a financial grant of KES. 800,000. The startupfocuses on building solutions that use Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to solve human/wildlife conflict, illegal wildlife trafficking, and poaching. Check out the website here https://www.rhions.co//
Rhions Lab is not the only venture that Julia has founded. In 2020, Julia launched an Imagine Cup community in Kenya which evangelizes Imagine Cup through events and blogs and coaching teams interested in submitting projects for Imagine Cup. Together with a team of amazing bloggers, they published a total of 10 blogs, held a couple of events and currently, they are designing a curriculum to coach high school students interested in exploring the tech space and to prepare them for Imagine Cup Junior. In January 2021, Julia received an invitation to join the Microsoft Africa Development Center for a 6-month part-time role as a Game of Learners Ambassador and in September that year, sheachieved the highest level (gold) in the Microsoft Learn Student Ambassador Program. Going through this program inspired Julia to be the help that many other young people might need and therefore, she created the Microsoft Learn Student Ambassador Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program whose mission is to create a space for Student Ambassadors to share their experiences, resources, learning, and opportunities with community members across the country and globe. While running Rhions Lab as the Operations Officer, the Imagine Cup Community in Kenya and the Microsoft Learn Student Ambassador Peer – to – Peer Mentoring Program, Julia is also currently part of a team of developers working on a management system for Microsoft Africa Development Center. In her words, “my goal is to position myself to build tech solutions for different clients, businesses and users.” She adds that she loves being part of the team crafting solutions to address different user pain points and this is what informs her interest in being a project manager & software developer as it gives her an opportunity to be at the center of it all. Asked what inspires her, she says that she sees the positive impact being brought about in the world every day and it’s her dream to not only be a spectator but a change agent and join the revolutionary train of making the world a better place.
This young lady who was first taken from the back seat by the opportunity to serve as the class representative of her class to utilizing the University’s Innovation & Incubation Hub (DeHUB) and tech clubs has grown to be a master tech mentor, creator of tech communities &solutions and is a Microsoft Certified fellow in Azure, Power Platform and Microsoft Security, Compliance and Identity Fundamentals. Here is what she says as a parting shot, especially to students: “Just try out all opportunities that come your way as you've got nothing to lose by getting yourself out there. I realized that there are a lot of opportunities readily available for students just because of their student status and once you graduate, they become almost impossible to access. Take advantage of them all and create a career path for yourself.”