Graduates reveal education’s power to change the world


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Four recent graduates from Monash South Africa – Kegaugetswe Pinky Motsomi, Mongezi Godfrey Lomo, Foundation Umaa Kundiona and Karishma Maharaj – will be using their skills, experience and qualifications to play their part and help make South Africa a better place to live, for all.

Kegaugetswe Pinky Motsomi: Education is a weapon that can change the world

Kegaugetswe Pinky Motsomi, graduate of leading tertiary institution, Monash South Africa, is a firm believer in her personal ethos that where a person comes from does not necessarily define where they are going. Furthermore, she is a shining example of her faith in the fact that “it is never too late to do something great”, and this is best evidenced by her recent achievement of an Honours degree in Public Health.

“Growing up in Morwa Village, Botswana, both my parents were diagnosed with life modification diseases. As a result of this I always wanted to be a medical doctor, but because the opportunity to pursue this path was never afforded to me, I elected to study public health with the hope of entering medicine in the future,” explains Motsomi.

She goes on to add that in the Motsomi family, it is believed that school only ends when life is drawing to a close. This is a motto that Motsomi has surely taken to heart, especially when one considers that her journey at Monash South Africa began with a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Development, as well as Criminology and that in addition to her Honours Degree she added a Postgraduate Diploma in Management (HIV/AIDS and Health) to her list of credentials. This means that Motsomi has applied herself in two areas of study, with her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees being completed at the Monash School of Social Sciences and School of Health Sciences respectively.

Monash South Africa was always on Motsomi’s radar and she says, “I was well aware that Monash is a prestigious university and when it came to my attention that students from this institution were head-hunted I decided that I too wanted the same opportunity to prove myself. When I was approached at the youth desk where I worked as a deputy president in my community and given the opportunity to apply for a bursary, I knew my life was about to change.”

It would seem that in the case of Kegaugetswe Pinky Motsomi, her parents’ teachings that education is a powerful weapon that can change the world are indeed true. Currently, Motsomi is publishing her thesis paper and that which she learned in her honours year at Monash South Africa is playing a large part in her manuscript. In addition, she has recently secured the position of provincial co-ordinator for non-profit organisation, Right to Care, which builds public and private capacity to treat and prevent HIV/AIDS.

Mongezi Godfrey Lomo: Kanana township resident inspires his community by graduating with honours

From being raised by a single mother in Klerksdorp’s Kanana Township to helping the underprivileged acquire title deeds for their homes, Mongezi Godfrey Lomo has displayed immense determination and tenacity in overcoming his circumstances. Having recently graduated with Honours in Criminology, after acquiring a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice, as well as Communications and Media Studies as a double major, Lomo is a source of inspiration to the youth of his community and beyond.

With these achievements in mind, Lomo has more than lived up to the Napoleon Hill quote, which inspires him and he has always believed that, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe the mind can achieve.” This positive approach to life, coupled with the support of his mother, who he describes as his rock, have ensured that Lomo will always seek ways in which to drive change and ensure impact in marginalised communities.

“My time at Monash South Africa saw me growing professionally and personally on many fronts. My course provided me with the foundation and knowledge for my degree, while my extracurricular activities as the manager of the soccer team helped me develop critical skills such as leadership, communication, teamwork and time management to name a few,” says Lomo.

Having registered at Monash South Africa on a bursary, Lomo’s proudest moment was when he was recognised as the Best Sports Representative of the Year in 2014. His reputation and expertise as a sportsman and leader has resulted in him continuing to work on a local government project.

His candid advice to other students: “Education is the key to your future. If you want to improve your circumstances, a solid education is your answer.” While the future does seem bright for Lomo, his five year plan includes pursuing an ambition to become an entrepreneur and establish his own security firm.”

Foundation Umaa Kundiona: His path to achieving his academic aspirations

Foundation Umaa Kundiona, a Zimbabwean Monash South Africa graduate, is a leading example of the important role a strong foundation plays and how it can assist school leavers achieve their academic aspirations irrespective of their circumstances. Having completed the Monash South Africa Higher Certificate in Higher Education Studies, which in essence is a pathway, preparing candidates for the demanding requirements of a degree; Kundiona has since achieved his undergraduate degree, with a double major in Marketing and Management, and is currently pursuing his Honours in Marketing at Monash South Africa within the School of Business and Economics.

Kundiona hopes to one day link his entrepreneurial ambitions with his passion for learning and he says, “Education inspires me, mainly due to my father who is my mentor and my inspiration. He has a Doctorate in education and he encourages and pushes me to achieve and be the best that I can be. From an academic perspective, my motivation to realise my goals is also drawn from my Monash academic supervisor who is really supportive and constantly encourages me to keep striving to reach my full potential.”

Working as a Resident Advisor in Student Services while on campus has meant that Kundiona is already putting his educational aims and objectives into practice. He has also acted as a dedicated member of the Monash Residence philanthropist group focussing on social responsibility specifically. Furthermore, Kundiona is basing his Honours thesis on entrepreneurship and education; a topic he hopes to expand upon when he pursues his Masters and Doctorate degrees.

Kundiona’s academic journey at Monash South Africa has also seen him travel to Malaysia as part the campus student exchange programme. “A true highlight of my time at Monash South Africa has been the opportunity to experience the Malaysian culture first hand. I had the privilege of meeting an inspirational lecturer at the Malaysian campus, who is passionate about demonstrating the practical aspects of her lectures to her students, and created fascinating excursions and activities for us to experience academic principles in practice. My journey made it clear to me that we have much to learn from other cultures, and many of the challenges we face in our communities are often experienced in other parts of the world too.”

If education has the power to uplift communities, then the role of a strong foundation such as the one that Kundiona experienced, in ensuring more scholars are fully equipped to enter university cannot be underestimated. The Monash South Africa Higher Certificate in Higher Education Studies, by way of example, is one NQF level above matric and aims to ensure that individuals like Kundiona, who are filled with passion and potential, can achieve their academic aspirations.

Karishma Maharaj: Humanitarian and Monash South Africa Public Health graduate sets out to change the world

With her graduation taking place on March 28, 2015, Karishma Maharaj is already out in the field bringing about positive change for the mothers and children of our country. Graduating with her Honours in Public Health from leading tertiary institution, Monash South Africa, Maharaj has already secured a research post in the Respiratory and Meningeal Pathogens Unit of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and she is actively putting into practice all that she has learned.

Growing up in Johannesburg, Maharaj dreamed of becoming a medical doctor or paramedic. A self-described humanitarian, Maharaj wanted to add value and be fulfilled by serving others and she says, “As the years progressed I set a new path, particularly when I saw the opportunities that were available to be involved in the medical field, but with even more impact and on an even larger scale than in curative care. What I do today entails not only treating or curing diseases, but also includes understanding the determinants and processes of illnesses to create bigger, better and more effective long-term solutions for hundreds or thousands of people, as opposed to one person at a time.”

Maharaj’s time at Monash South Africa, during which she also achieved her undergraduate degree Cum Laude, no doubt contributed to this change of heart: “Throughout my studies at Monash, I grew to love public health and epidemiology. What’s more, my time at Monash really contributed towards my career in medical research, because the Bachelor of Public Health is designed as a very research intensive course. Although difficult at times, it really taught me the fundamentals of health research. I have also found that I am more advanced in terms of my research skills thanks to the excellent foundation Monash’s Public Health programme provides.”

It would seem that Maharaj’s hard work has certainly paid off because in the short time that she has been working since she finished her course in 2014, she is already interacting with leaders in certain United Nations divisions including the World Health Organisation. “These are internationally recognised research organisations which I hope to be a part of one day. Being at the SAMRC for only a short time, I now know that my chosen path was the right one. It is a privilege working with the most vulnerable members of our society and ensuring that through my work I can have a direct and profound impact on their quality of life,” concludes Maharaj.

In the case of Maharaj, the visionary Mahatma Gandhi who truly inspires her perhaps describes the hard-working graduate most accurately: “The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others.”