Pestalozzi

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Phyllis Mbewe

After graduating, Phyllis Mbewe went onto study Civil and Environmental Engineering at Duke University in the United States. She now works as an Engineer in Training in South Texas where she hopes to obtain her Professional Engineering Licence. Read below for her post-Pestalozzi story:

"As a child, math and science came naturally to me and I knew I wanted to incorporate these into my life even though I constantly heard people say that girls and women rarely excel in math and science based careers. However, I was determined to be among the few who did succeed; a philosophy that was instilled into me by my mother. My mother used to call me her "little engineer” well before I even understood what engineering meant. She would often encourage me to undertake "handy work” around the house, these tasks varied from changing light bulbs to creating make-shift structures in the garden. By the time I was at secondary school I had a better understanding of engineering and I dreamt of one day becoming an engineer.

Phyllis Mbewe graudates from Duke University
Phyllis Mbewe graduates from Duke University.

During my time at secondary school my mother passed away. My whole world crumbled and I lost sight of my future plans. I knew that I had the support of my relatives to help me finish school, but without my mother’s help I would be left on my own to find a way of obtaining a college
education.

Just after I had graduated secondary school, Pestalozzi came along. I had never heard of the charity but understood that it was an opportunity not to be missed to further my studies. Pestalozzi offered me a scholarship to study the International Baccalaureate in England, yet little did I know that Pestalozzi offered me more than just a scholarship; it opened up so many more chances to advance in engineering and took me places I had only dreamed of visiting.

After Pestalozzi I went to study for a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Duke University in America. I then proceeded to study for a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering at the University of South Carolina (USC) which I completed in August 2013. I am now working full time as an Engineer In Training (EIT) at a Civil Engineering firm in South Texas whilst pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) at Texas A&M. My aim is to obtain my Professional Engineering License within the next couple of years to be able to start my own engineering consultancy firm in Zambia. Alongside this, I plan to become more involved with programs that encourage young girls to pursue math and science studies; I have already taken the first step and am making connections with my primary schools to see how this can be organised.

Turning my dream of becoming an engineer into a reality started with Pestalozzi. I’ve been given a high quality education that opened up so many opportunities for me to pursue further studies, all the while shaping my personal development. None of this would have been possible without the help of Pestalozzi and the many well-wishers along the way."

- Phyllis Mbewe, 2015.