Alumni Spotlight: Kyrgyzstan

Aigerim Kurmanbekova representing Kyrgyzstan with the national flag

“Once a UGRAD, always a UGRAD!” This statement resonates deeply with me and many others who have had the privilege of participating in the Global UGRAD Program. My name is Aigerim Kurmanbekova, and as a proud Wayne State Warrior representing Kyrgyzstan at Wayne State University during the fall semester of 2019, I have come to understand the profound impact this program has had on shaping my academic pursuits and personal growth.

Global UGRAD opened my eyes to the education system of the United States while fostering lifelong friendships and a genuine appreciation for diverse American culture. Upon returning home, armed with newfound knowledge and experiences, I became aware of the transformative power of technology, particularly within the STEM fields. Even though being a woman in STEM in Kyrgyzstan has challenges, I am determined to break stereotypes.

Aigerim participating in a TechWomen workshop event

Through hard work, I have gained opportunities for learning and studying and, at the same time, I also wanted to give back. I decided to create more opportunities for girls and women who, just like me, are told that they cannot get higher education or achieve what men can. For instance, I founded an Engineers Club where students of all genders can engage in design software and complex calculations. It brought hundreds of students together from different parts of Kyrgyzstan to work towards breaking stereotypes through STEM.

At the LinkedIn headquarters in California

In 2023, I was selected as a TechWomen Fellow and recognized as one of the Top 5 honorees nationwide and among the Top 100 out of 3000+ applicants in the expansive regions of Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East. TechWomen unites emerging women leaders in STEM with their counterparts in the United States through a mentorship and exchange program. This transformative initiative offers participants valuable access to networks, resources, and knowledge, empowering them to realize their fullest potential. I participated in a professional mentorship program at LinkedIn, and traveled to their headquarters in Silicon Valley, California. Through this experience, I learned more about how big tech companies’ product and engineering teams operate under the supervision of my mentors. This was a pivotal moment in my career. Moreover, I visited the offices of prominent tech companies such as Google, Meta, Marvell, Chime, etc., and experienced the power of Silicon Valley. I was inspired by the women leading the changes in technology and their stories fueled my passion for promoting gender equality and sparked ideas on how similar initiatives could be implemented in Kyrgyzstan.

Aigerim and other TechWomen Fellows celebrating their achievements

Reflecting on my journey, I am profoundly grateful for the unwavering support and connections I gained through Global UGRAD. As a proud alumna of the program, I am committed to leveraging my experiences to drive positive change and empower the next generation of leaders in my country and beyond. The Global UGRAD Program not only provided me with the tools to succeed but instilled within me a sense of purpose and responsibility to effect meaningful change in the world around me.