PyDev of the Week: Aisha Bello

This week we welcome Aisha Bello (@AishaXBello) as our PyDev of the Week! Aisha is the founder of PyLadies Nigeria and is passionate about STEM in developing countries. She is also an organizer for DjangoGirls in Africa. Aisha has gone around the world speaking talking about Python at EuroPython, DjangoCon, Python Brasil and the PyData conferences. Let’s take a few moments to get to know her better!

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

Currently I work as a Virtual Systems Engineer in the Data Center and Virtualisation practice for Cisco, Nigeria. I completed a Masters in Information Technology from Cardiff Metropolitan, where I worked on a Data Science project for the hospitality industry. I am very passionate about women empowerment and tech education in developing countries.

When I am not working you would catch me watching a movie, going for a gym class or exploring new places.

Why did you start using Python?

I started Python when I attended a DjangoGirls event at Europython back in 2015. That was my very first encounter with Python. and I remember asking myself in the midst of the workshop “Where have you been all my life”. The ‘you’ being ‘Python’. This is coming from a girl who gave up on programming as a whole, because she couldn’t quite grasp the concepts of the languages she had learned in school. Back then I only wanted to learn enough Java or C to finish a school project or just pass the exam. I was totally convinced that programming was for the first class and genius students , definitely not me. Now when I look back it wasn’t the concepts that was too complex to understand, but the way the other languages interpreted those concepts was complicated at least for me.

How did you get started with DjangoGirls and PyLadies?

When I attended my first DjangoGirls event in Bilbao, and stayed for the entire conference. I remember going back home and was so fired up to bring such an amazing opportunity back home to women in Nigeria, to show them that they too could code. That being a makeup artist or fashion designer wasn’t all that we could be good for like some of us are conditioned to believe. From there on the Python Nigeria community was born. After the DjangoGirls event I was looking for a way to help the ladies that attended continue their learnings, and PyLadies Nigeria was born.

What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?

While in school I played around “textbook style” with C, C++, Java, and I have done a bit of Javascript too in the past. When I had just finished my undergrad I started a makeup and hair business and built a website for my business using the ‘good ol’ HTML & CSS. I would say Python still is my favorite. It was so easy and much less complicated to start out building things with Python, but most importantly Echoing the words of a wise man, Brett Cannon ; I came for the Language but stayed for the community. I can’t even begin to explain how powerful that is.

What projects are you working on now?

One of the projects I am most proud of is the Python Community in Nigeria, how and where we started and how far we have come. We went from 1 DjangoGirls workshop in 2016, to a community of 1200 people with over 50 events happening all over the country in form of other events; DjangoGirls, Pyladies, PyData and now Python Nigeria meetups. I am most excited about the Python Conference coming up in September where over 250 pythonistas will be under the same roof sharing and talking about Python in different domains.

Funny thing is it’s been almost a year since I bought a personal domain name where I was going to build my site from scratch, and also start writing again, breaking down networking concepts for developers, inspired by my PyData talk last year. I guess we would see 🙂

Which Python framework or libraries are your favorite (core or 3rd party)?

Not sure I would use the word favorite. I started Python by learning Django and went on to do my first Data Science ML Project with Scikit-Learn. And now that I deal with a lot of API’s, I can’t do without the Requests library .

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

If I could say one thing to my younger self it would be “Never underestimate yourself. You are smart enough, good enough, You are enough. Keep pushing, keep climbing and never give up”

Thanks for doing the interview, Aisha!

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