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Sister Jennifer Aikins of the Congregation of the Handmaids of the Divine Redeemer, (HDR) on March 31, 2023, became the first person in her congregation to complete a degree in Mathematics Education in Ghana.
She graduated with a Second-Class Upper honours with a 3.3/4.0 GPA from the University of Cape Coast.
She tells Catholic Trends that her decision to opt for Mathematics Education was driven by her desire to be a motivation to girls, especially those who think Mathematics is a preserve of men and boys.
She hopes that her achievement will encourage more girls to pursue mathematics and science-related courses, and ultimately, help bridge the gender gap in these fields.
Sister Jennifer was born in Tema and received her basic education at St John Bosco School in the same city.
She had her Senior High School education at Wesley Grammar School, Dansoman.
She joined the HDR Congregation in 2013, right after completing her Senior High School education in 2012.
Four years after, she took her first vows.
In 2017, she enrolled at the University of Cape Coast to study Mathematics Education but deferred for a year to offer ministry in New York. She returned to complete the course in November 2022.
Despite the growing recognition of the importance of STEM education, girls continue to be underrepresented in STEM fields. Studies show that gender stereotypes, lack of female role models, and unconscious bias contribute to this trend.
To address this issue, efforts are being made to encourage and support girls in STEM education, including mentorship programs, scholarships, and outreach initiatives.
These efforts aim to increase the participation of girls in STEM fields and empower them to pursue careers in areas such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
It is expected that individuals like Sister Jennifer will continue to be a guide for young girls. Particularly, those in rural Ghana in the area of STEM Education.