Rwanda’s Stella-Noella Tetero Wants to Apply Nanotechnology to Help Conflict Survivors

Growing up in Kigali, Rwanda, Stella-Noella Tetero found that educating girls was not often valued. So at first, her interest in engineering was fueled by a desire to defy the norms and “prove her worth” by excelling academically, but she soon realized that engineering was one of her key passions in life.. She organized a national public speaking competition for girls around the theme of African women and culture, and came to Columbia to pursue her education and chart a better future.

“I loved the fact that every piece of information I received raised more questions, and I wanted to be part of the people who try to find solutions,” Tetero says. “Finding these solutions often raises even more problems, but that is part of the beauty of engineering. Ways to make the world better still humble us as human beings who cannot fix all the flaws in the world.”

Drawn to Columbia by its core curriculum, opportunities to collaborate across disciplines, and location in New York City, Tetero was also attracted by the extensive support system for international students. She hopes in the future to assist chemical engineering faculty with research.

When Tetero isn’t studying, she enjoys music, film, literature, and sampling new cuisines with friends. She’s considering a career in nanotechnology, perhaps developing scaffolds that aid in regenerating skin tissue and that could help survivors of conflicts. She’s also interested in treating cancer as well as the psychological toll it has on survivors.

“Being constantly surrounded at SEAS by such brilliant individuals in different fields instills a certain competition,” she says. “Not the bad kind of wanting to prove who has the upper hand, but the kind that brings out the best in each of us and makes us want to go as far as we can in whatever we’re passionate about.  Having professors willing to assist every step of the way encourages me even more.”

by Jesse Adams

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