Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) Executive Dean of Computing and Informatics, Dr. Anicia Peters’ Journey in the academic world is one that belies the notion that information technology (IT) is a career field for males only.
Having spent six good years in the United States of America (USA) while completing tertiary education after being chosen as one of the best finance minds from Africa to study there for a Doctor of Philosophy (PHD) in Human Computer Interaction, a field of Computer Science, in 2009, the adventure turned out to be not only one of the best in her life, but also the most rewarding.
She tells Prime Focus Magazine that while working at NUST as a lecturer and studying at the same time, she was shocked to receive the best opportunity that changed her life. “I was busy with my Maters Degree at NUST when I got the opportunity. This was a very big surprise because we were only two women who made it and it was not just a huge honour for Namibia but significant to Africa as well,” she says.
“After finishing my PHD, I relocated back to Namibia together with my husband and kids. My colleagues then encouraged me to apply for the Dean position at NUST and I told them that I don’t think I will get that position but that I will try nonetheless. Sometimes I feel like people around me believe in me more than I believe in myself.”
Peters is now responsible for the computer science and informatics faculty, with all the lecturers and department heads reporting to her.
“My job is not so exciting like people are made to believe, but it’s hectic. I have meetings all day and NUST has recently changed from being the Polytechnic of Namibia, which came with new challenges so I believe with the job comes a lot of learning and what keeps me going is the believe of always having to think on my feet and act fast,” she says.
Peters relates to Prime Focus Magazine her ordeal of falling victim to prejudice at the hands of detractors who questioned her ability to thrive in the ICT sector, while also referencing her presumed inadequacies because of her gender.
Although Peters’ experience was one of being judged according to her skin colour and gender, she admits that nothing could put her down as she strived and managed to prove herself through hard work and determination.
“Although I have managed to get to where I am today, there are challenges like having to balance between being a Dean, a researcher and someone who wants to go out and design or build software,” she says.
She further reveals that, “I want us to start building technology tools that can support gender-based violence (GBV) victims, some intervention tools, and I want to collect a lot of data and just build a national data base. For instance, I don’t know how many IT professionals are in Namibia. I won’t be able to tell you and it drives me crazy.”
She also mentions that Namibia is behind when it comes to data collection and that the country does not have data collection in place, which could assist the government with decision-making.
Although Peters aim is to explore the IT industry, she is also a mother of four. “I have four daughters. As a mother, I make sure to spend time with my daughters and my husband whenever I am free, however, I must admit that I am lucky to have a supportive husband.”
She also advises other women out there to grab any opportunity given. “You find students that are hungry for success and come to school despite their challenges and they do not give up.
Be a go-getter because there are so many educational opportunities out there. If you drop out of school, you will one day get stuck with a job that you don’t like or be stuck in an abusive relationship because you are scared to leave due to economical dependency,” she warns.