The 1,000 Dreams Fund aims to empower students toward their greatest ambitions. It funds scholarships for young women in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) fields. Cosmographer Stella Mbila-Uma was recently awarded their New Face of Tech scholarship this Spring 2024! COSMOS celebrates this accomplishment and is immensely proud to have been part of and helped her receive this honor!

“We are extremely proud of Stella Mbila-Uma for winning the prestigious and competitive ‘New Face of Tech Scholarship’ that encourages women’s participation in STEAM disciplines – an effort we champion and celebrate at COSMOS. Only 25 students were awarded the scholarship from across the nation,” stated COSMOS director Dr. Nitin Agarwal. “I congratulate Stella for this commendable accomplishment that puts UA Little Rock among the nation’s top schools!”

Below are some of her insights into the scholarship, her career, and what it means. 

What does being the New Face of Tech mean to you?

It signifies embodying innovation, inclusivity, and progress in the technology realm. It’s about breaking barriers, promoting diversity, and contributing fresh perspectives.

It means being a catalyst for positive change, leveraging technology to solve complex problems, and advocating for equitable opportunities for everyone.

How did COSMOS play a role in this scholarship?

COSMOS profoundly shaped my exploration in the tech industry, which unlocked a world of possibilities. This distinctive journey set me apart and culminated in my “New Face of Tech 2024” award. Specifically, my research honed in on OpenAI and image processing, where I pioneered novel techniques to discern emotions in blog posts. This specialized endeavor demonstrated my technical expertise and highlighted my dedication to harnessing technology to comprehend and amplify human experiences. 

This fusion of unique skills and passions was pivotal in earning me recognition.

Women are underrepresented in STEAM. How can we change this?

To address the underrepresentation of women in STEAM, we need multifaceted efforts.

First, early education and outreach programs should spark girls’ interest in STEAM fields, dispelling stereotypes and showcasing diverse role models. Encouraging mentorship, internships, and scholarships specifically for women in STEAM can provide crucial support.

We must create inclusive environments in workplaces and educational institutions, promote gender diversity in leadership roles, and implement unbiased recruitment practices.

A more balanced and inclusive STEAM landscape can be created by fostering a supportive network and advocating for policies that ensure equal opportunities, regardless of gender.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

Significant challenges have been navigating cultural norms, prioritizing male children, and undervaluing women’s roles in STEAM. In my African environment, societal expectations often prioritize traditional gender roles, limiting opportunities for women in STEAM. Overcoming biases that label these fields as male-dominated has been an uphill battle, and I have faced skepticism and being looked down upon merely because of my gender.

Breaking through these barriers has required resilience, determination, and proving that gender doesn’t dictate my competence or passion for STEAM fields. It’s about challenging societal perceptions, advocating for equal opportunities, and creating a more inclusive environment for women in these disciplines.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?

I maintain my motivation and focus on my goals through key strategies. 

First, I cultivate a clear vision of what I aim to achieve, breaking it down into smaller, actionable steps. I set specific, measurable goals that help maintain direction and momentum.

Additionally, I surround myself with a supportive network of mentors, peers, and role models who inspire and encourage me. I regularly revisit my aspirations, and celebrating small victories keeps me motivated.

Moreover, staying adaptable and embracing challenges as learning opportunities helps me persevere through setbacks. Ultimately, my passion for my field and a belief in the impact of my work drives my motivation to stay focused on my goals.

How will the 1,000 Dreams Fund and HARMAN funding help you reach your goals?

It’s pivotal as I navigate my final semester as a graduate student. It will significantly support my research and thesis by covering essential expenses such as research materials, access to specialized databases, and software crucial for my project.

Additionally, it will alleviate financial stress, allowing me to focus more on my academic pursuits. This support ensures that I can dedicate myself fully to producing high-quality research, and it enables me to excel in my studies and complete my thesis, laying a solid foundation for my career in the tech industry.

Read more about the scholarship and the 1,000 Dreams Fund at, or read more about Stella’s accomplishment and Women’s History Month at