inspiration · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Victoria Chibuogu Nneji

“I choose to make the rest of my life the best of my life.” – Louise Hay

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I was born in Lagos, Nigeria and raised in the Carolinas, USA.  I had my first job in middle school as a computational science intern and connected with a mentor at the firm who taught me how to build my first home computer.  This experience sparked a passion for technology, education and the difference that could have on our lives. I did not know about Columbia University until two months before the deadline in my senior year when I received a letter inviting me to visit their engineering school.  I almost did not respond until I realized it would be a free trip to New York City.  Thank God!  Stepping onto campus, I felt the energy and was convinced.  A lot of experiences I have had are like this: not knowing exactly where my efforts would take me.  That is how I ended up earning over $1 Million in scholarships, spent my summer before college delving into web app development at Google, and my final winter break of college with an awesome group of fellow engineers at Square.  By age 22, I earned a Master of Engineering Management and began pursuing a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Duke University’s new Robotics Center, researching system design for human interaction with autonomous machines.

What # would define your life journey?
master grad-2

Favorite website / app:
Duolingo – currently learning Portuguese and polishing my German language skills with two lessons a day!  Sim, menina or should I say Ja, Mädchen!

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted (if any):
My mother inspires me and constantly reminds me through her actions and words that we are not given the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Song that makes you want to dance:
Elle Varner – Only Wanna Give It To You ft. J. Cole

Technical challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
In my work as an engineering researcher, everyday I intellectually wrestle with technical challenges. I overcome them by reaching out to subject-matter experts (those with on-the-ground perspectives), searching and reviewing the work of other researchers, discussing ideas with my mentors and colleagues, and testing out my educated guesses using models of the problem.  This is a science and an art, to be determined and persevere through complex paths, in a quest for knowledge that can change an industry.

Ideal Job:
I see myself as a budding managing director of research & development in user experience design for advanced technologies (like robotics, virtual reality, cyber-physical systems).  I am still very much passionate about education so wherever I can intersect on that cause would be ideal, especially whenever I can positively impact communities on a global scale from a rural area of the US to a metropolis in Nigeria.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Ladies, if you are still figuring out what your passions are, do not lose heart but open your eyes and ears to new areas and feel for where your heart is tugged toward.  Once you have discovered what drives you, connect with people who are in the space you desire to occupy and maintain your relationships with those who encourage and inspire you to continue, and don’t stop.  Even once you have reached your “destination,” or your “throne,” be a servant leader in the way you make every effort to help others reach their highest potential too.
rail research-2

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