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NOVA’s Albertine Djoumou Nkombou, International Women’s Day STEM Spotlight

Albertine Djoumou Nkombou works diligently to make a name for herself as an engineer while ensuring that support for women like her in the tech industry continues. To her, it is important to help bring more women into the STEM industry. 

Like many students in NOVA’s renowned 'Data Center Operations' program, Nkombou found a job almost immediately upon starting the program. Last October, she participated in the NOVA partnership program with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Sumitomo Electric Lightwave for Fiber Optic Fusion Splicing Training, a program AWS intends to expand internationally to additional educational institutions and military bases. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background:

I am from Cameroon, central Africa and came to the U.S. to continue my studies. My sister happens to live in Northern Virginia, and she was lonely and wanted somebody to come and stay with her. 

I love reading and I loving singing. My favorite book so far is 'The Memo' by Minda Harts. It's a book about supporting black women in the workplace and teaching leadership. 

What brought you to NOVA?

I came to NOVA to continue my studies from Africa. I was previously studying physics, and I decided to become an engineer. 

What are you studying or plan to study at NOVA?

I started in NOVA’s engineering program in the associates of science while still taking ESL courses. Then I discovered the data center program that was just starting at NOVA. I then decided to transfer to the associate of applied sciences with a focus in database operations management. 

What would you tell an incoming NOVA student? 

I would tell an incoming student to ‘believe in yourself and do not let go.’ When I started this program, I didn’t know that two months after starting I would have job. That was crazy and mind-blowing, but there are a lot of opportunities out there. It can be difficult at times to go to school at night, but it pays off at the end of the day. 

Where do you see yourself after NOVA or what career pursuits are you exploring?

This program is really new, and I am glad I went chose it and was able to succeed. In any way that I can, I want to support it. I want to potentially be an assistant professor and I want help. Professionally, I also want to be a controls engineer [someone who ensures manufacturing plants are creating the best products possible in the most efficient way] in five years.  

I am passionate about bringing more women into the STEM industry, and I see myself maybe founding a support group or an organization that supports women in this field--like reaching to middle school and elementary school girls and teaching them what this industry is about and supporting them, their education and career paths going forward. 

Tell Us About Your Experience at NOVA (ie: professors you’ve liked and friends you’ve met)

I want to give a big shoutout to Amir Mahmood. He has been a huge inspiration to me. He keeps pushing me to believe in myself, and he assures me that I can do this. 

The other person I want to give a shoutout to is all the other people in the data center engineering program at NOVA. I love that we all keep in touch and we always think about the people coming after us. 

What do you think about moving the representation needle for Women in Tech? 

I really feel grateful to be at the forefront of women entering the technology field. I don’t necessarily code, but I am a facilities engineer. I want to work on bringing more women to the industry. Outside of just being an engineer, I want to see what I can bring to the table and help more women.  

I try to support the women that are entering the program after. I help with resume writing, or if I hear about a networking event, I tell other women that I know. Whatever I hear about, I tell others so that I can be helpful for other women

I really want to do more. I am actually trying to learn more about how I can create a support group for women in engineering. I also noticed from my experience in working in a male- dominated industry, I think about how I can support the industry by diversifying the talent. I want people to be confident in who they are. 

How do you feel that Amazon and Sumitomo are sponsoring this program? 

I commend AWS for sponsoring this. If they did not, this wouldn’t have been possible for me. I wouldn’t have been able to get a certification. The fact that it is free is amazing! It is giving you something that helps your career. That is still a way to support the community, and I love that they are doing that for the community in Northern Virginia. 

What do you think about this professional development opportunity and fusion splicing certificate through Sumitomo and AWS? 

Getting this cert means a lot to me, and those at NOVA. Having this certificate means that I can splice a connector. I’m learning about splicing connectors, and having never heard of that before, I believe that for my experience, this means a lot. 

The teachers are great, the hands-on training is fantastic. Those were great things to learn. At the pace at which the tech industry is growing, this certificate will help me. 

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is the largest public institution of higher learning in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls nearly 80,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield (Medical Education Campus) and Woodbridge, through NOVA Online and high school dual enrollment. We offer more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs to help our students reach their academic and professional goals through university transfers and access to the most in-demand careers. At NOVA, we strive to ensure that every student succeeds, every program achieves and every community prospers. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, visit our website, www.nvcc.eduor call 703.323.3000.