All is Possible

Mary Nankya hopes her graduate degree in computer science opens doors for women
Portrait of computer science graduate student Mary Nankya

I look forward to showing other women that all of this is possible, and to participate in programs that will bring women closer and fill that gender gap in technology.

By Caroline Lanni

After living in Uganda her whole life, Mary Nankya decided to expand her education and enroll in graduate school at Fitchburg State.

She first learned about Fitchburg State in 2016, from friends she had met at a Women in Technology conference in Texas. Nankya, who has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Makerere University in her native country, worked with Women in Technology in Uganda, where she taught women how to use computers in a variety of careers.

Nankya said a passion for solving community problems across industries inspired her to study computer science.

“I find it so fascinating how amazing technology advances from low level to high level, and in this industry, you have to know all levels,” she said.

Nankya plans to pursue a PhD after completing her master’s studies. While she pursues her degree, she is working on campus as the graduate assistant for the Center for Diversity and Inclusiveness.

Investing her time and resources in a master’s degree has come with challenges. She has two sons, Christian and Japheth, back home in Uganda. “Being a mom, I create time to communicate with them on video during the week, and it's a beautiful experience to be here and communicate to them still while attending school,” she said.

Nankya said that her family is her motivation to work hard.

“It’s a decision I had to make, and school is temporary,” she said. “Before I know it, it will be done and I will be with my children again.”

She said she also knows her new credentials will help jump-start her career, and looks forward to being an inspiration to other women.

“I look forward to showing other women that all of this is possible,” she said, “and to participate in programs that will bring women closer, and fill that gender gap between women and men in technology.”

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2022 edition of Contact magazine.