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Empowering Black Women in Engineering: Journeys of Resilience and Leadership

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Cilla Chilengue and Ketsiya Mundoga

During Black History Month, Maryland Applied Graduate Engineering (MAGE) highlights the inspiring journeys of Cilla Chilengue and Ketsiya Mundoga, both graduates of the Reliability Engineering program at the University of Maryland. Their experiences underscore resilience, self-improvement, and the transformative impact of the Doyenne Initiative.

The Doyenne Initiative is an international nonprofit organization that helps exceptional women become experts and leaders in their fields by providing scholarships for graduate degrees as well as work experience and mentorship. The Doyenne Reliability Engineering Program (DREP) seeks out qualified Mozambican women to earn their Master of Engineering in Reliability Engineering through MAGE. 

Cilla and Ketsiya were selected for the program from a large pool of remarkable applicants with Bachelor’s degrees in engineering and, with support from the Doyenne Initiative, traveled to the United States to pursue graduate engineering degrees in reliability through MAGE at the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering.

Studying reliability engineering, both women found themselves standing out in a field often overlooked but immensely valuable. Cilla said, "It feels special to do something that not a lot of people know about." Their education at the University of Maryland went beyond theory, delving into practical applications.

"They want to create a leader out of you."

Ketsiya Mundoga

Hailing from Mozambique, Ketsiya and Cilla drew inspiration from their surroundings. Ketsiya grew up near a coal plant, which ignited a passion for positive change. Cilla was motivated to pursue an advanced education in order to help lift her family out of poverty.

Their paths intersected with the Doyenne Initiative, committed to empowering women through education and leadership development. Ketsiya emphasized the initiative's goal to nurture Black women leaders, stating, "They want to create a leader out of you."

Discussing Doyenne's mission, Cilla stressed the ripple effect of education, saying, "If you educate a girl child, you educate the whole nation." Both credited Doyenne with providing a platform for personal growth and leadership development.

Since completing their Master’s degrees in reliability engineering, Ketsiya and Cilla stand empowered, representing excellence in the field. Cilla emphasized the significance of education for credibility, stating, "Education is still very much important." Ketsiya expressed her desire to return for a Ph.D., highlighting the profound impact the University of Maryland has had on her life.

Published February 14, 2024