23-year-old defies odds for career in mechanics

Iroku repairs a car in Soroti City recently. Photo/George Muron

What you need to know:

  •    Iroku did not give up on her dream, opting to join the Church of Uganda Vocational Training Institute (VTI) for a certificate in automotive mechanics.  

Repairing cars for a living is considered a male preserve by many. 
   However, this did not deter 23-year-old Susan Ruth Iroku, who is thriving in this career path in Soroti City.
   Dressed in a blue overall stained with grease, Ms Iroku goes about her duties at Soroti Juakali with ease.

“My decision for automotive mechanics was driven by passion for sciences and desire for a unique profession. I could have gone for either electrical installation or medicine, but mechanics stood out because I imagined that there were few female mechanics and that it was of great market value. After all, it’s a science course,” Ms Iroku says.

Ms Iroku, who was born in Ogera Village, Bugondo Sub-county in Serere District, says she had a passion for a career in the automotive industry since childhood.
Iroku says she wanted to study automotive engineering at the university, but could not because her parents were not able to pay her fees due to financial constraints.

   Iroku did not give up on her dream, opting to join the Church of Uganda Vocational Training Institute (VTI) for a certificate in automotive mechanics.  
The year two automotive mechanics student says she shunned a course in hair dressing because she could not bear the smell of cosmetics.
Iroku says she had no interest in tailoring despite it being her father’s profession. 

During holidays and weekends, Ms Iroku spends much of her time in one of the garages opposite East Kyoga regional police station in Soroti City, for industrial training, where she repairs tractors and other vehicles.
Delving deep into the intricacy of automotive mechanics, Ms Iroku says her dream is to become an engineer or instructor on automotive engineering.

“I have started at a lower level but I am sure I can be great because I find that things are not that hard or complicated. For now, I don’t want to say I am a complete mechanic but at least I now know something because I am working with a supportive team that inspires and I believe I can be a prolific engineer or instructor in the future if God is willing and allows me to further my studies,” Ms Iroku says.
Iroku says whenever she faces hardships, she consults her seniors for guidance.

Ms Iroku adds that she sometimes faces challenges of acquiring tuition and scholastic materials.
Her mentor at the garage, Mr Daniel Emech, praised Ms Iroku as a resilient girl who works tirelessly without complaining.
Mr Emech encourages more girls to join the automotive mechanics profession.

Her education
Born in 2001, Ms Iroku started her studies at Ogera Primary School where she was from Primary One to Primary Two. 
She then went to Omongolem Community Primary School from Primary Three to Primary Five, before joining Great Angels Nursery and Primary School for Primary Six to Primary Seven.
   She then joined Kamod High School for her Ordinary Level education, which she completed in 2021 and she joined VTI in 2023.