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Today, we end off our youth month careers feature with young people from different parts of the country who have ventured into their fields of interest and made a difference. 

They were ecstatic to share their experiences with us about their leadership roles and below we’ve briefly captured the essence of our conversation with them…

Sihle Mogorosi, 22 – Pretoria

Sihle Mogorosi is a 2nd-year medical student at the University of Pretoria. He is Head of Leadership Development at TULIP (which he speaks about below), and he also does part-time farming. 

Q. Tell us about the Tuks Leadership and Individual programme. 

TULIP ( Tuks Leadership and individuals programme) is a student-driven programme at the University of Pretoria that aims to bridge the gap between Secondary and Tertiary education in rural parts of Pretoria. I serve as Head of Leadership Development on the Laudium side and my key role is to develop activities and space where learners can showcase their leadership capabilities. 

Q. You also have a YouTube channel where you share information about studying medicine. Why did you decide to start this channel? 

My YouTube channel (Sihle medic) holds a very special place in my heart. It took 3 years of rejection before I could finally get accepted into Medicine at the University of Pretoria. I uploaded my first YouTube video sharing my story of how I got into medicine, many were inspired by how I was able to transform from underperforming in my matric science subjects to passing Bsc with distinctions and eventually making it to medicine. 

Q. You also do farming at HASLEN Harvest Co. How did that come about and how is it going? 

HASLEN Harvest Co. Is a primary cooperative vegetable farming business that we cofounded as a group of six friends. ‘HASLEN’ is an abbreviation for the first letter of each member’s name. The idea to start this business came about in March 2020 during the first Lockdown. We had just received our NSFAS allowances and saw an opportunity to start something that could potentially lead us to financial freedom. The farm is in Winterveldt, Pretoria on land that was inherited by one of the HASLEN members.

Q. Do you have any plans to use your medical qualification to change the world?

Yes, definitely! After completing this MBChB degree I plan on doing my internship and community service in rural KZN, I believe it is in rural areas where there is a real lack of primary health care. My long term goal is to specialise further in Otorhinolaryngology (ENT surgeon) or Dermatology and also enter the academic space

Danielle Hoffmeester, 29 – Cape Town

Danielle is a Project Leader in the Sustained Dialogues programme of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation. She mainly works on issues of youth identity, social change, and gender issues. 

Q. What inspired you to pursue this line of work?

I don’t think I would name the driving force behind my work an ‘inspiration’. The word ‘inspiration’ has positive connotations to it which I’m not sure I’d attach to the work I do. While what I do can be described as powerful and impactful, I think it’s disturbing that it needs to be done at all. Unfortunately, the society we live in is unjust and often violent toward those who are non-normative and that is angering. I suppose that this is what propels me to do what I do, anger.

Q. Pride month is almost over, what are some of the big victories you achieved this month?

I don’t know if I have individual successes, apart from staying alive. However, I do count the victories of the whole queer community as my own. For example, queer young people in a town I work in are organizing their community’s first Pride march and that’s exciting to me. I’m immensely proud of them for making themselves more visible. I am also, proud knowing that their action was spurred on by the work my colleagues and I do. 

Q. How has dealing with issues regarding gender identity, sexuality, and race, etc. changed you? 

I’d like to think it’s made me softer and more compassionate. Even within the queer community, certain tensions exist between different groups and it’s not spoken about often enough in a way that is brave and safe for everyone. The discussions I’ve had with people of diverse genders, sexualities, and races have always left me feeling more like myself, more authentic, more animated- and less like a combatant expected to fight and defend herself and her identity to everyone.

Q. If you had the authority to alleviate challenges that people face every day, what would be your top 3?

I’d want each person to feel and be safe. I’d want every person to have convenient access to whatever they need to thrive in this world, including food, shelter, healthcare, and education. I don’t know what I’d want beyond that.

Unarine Mulaudzi, 20 – Bloemfontein 

Unarine Mulaudzi is a student at the University of the Free State. She launched a school shoe donating campaign during the height of the COVID 19 pandemic to support children from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

Q. Tell us about the shoe campaign that you led.

I started the campaign alone, and I had a goal to at least have 10 pairs of school shoes by the end of the first week of the school reopening. Well, fortunately, I achieved more than I expected. So far, we have given away 31 pairs. 

Q. Why did you decide to pursue this project?

I started the campaign because I could relate to the challenges of not having proper shoes to wear. There was a time in my schooling years I had to go to school wearing torn shoes. I had to ask my friends if they had extra pairs from the previous years, so that I may escape embarrassment. 

Q. What are the challenges you met and the proud moments while running the project?

The biggest challenge is finding sponsors, we rely on individual donations. Transportation is another challenge we faced when donating. Proud moments are when I look at the learners’ smiles when we are handing them a new pair of shoes and socks. I feel motivated to keep on working hard so we can help more kids.

Q. How would you want to change the world if you had the authority?

I will start with our education system and ensure that kids are getting all the knowledge about financial literacy, teaching them soft skills, and have a platform to allow them to know about the great opportunities. Lastly, I will instil the spirit of giving back to the community so they can be the changemakers our world needs.

Luxolo Copiso, 21 – Stellenbosch 

Luxolo Copiso is co-founder of the Inkwenkwezi Tutoring and Mentorship program based in Stellenbosch. He is a final year student at the University of Cape Town and a mentor to school learners who are studying towards getting university admission.

Q. Tell us about the Inkwenkezi Tutoring and Mentorship Programme.

Inkwenkwezi Tutoring and Mentorship program focuses on providing educational assistance (tutoring) and mentorship (psychosocial support) to communities. Khangelani (Co-Founder) and I started the program to tutor, and we saw that tutoring is not only enough without the provision of psychosocial support. For this reason, we saw the pressure that comes when a person is doing Grade 12/high school, so we decided to create a bridge to close that gap by providing psychosocial support.

Q. What are some of your biggest Wins?

In our first year of starting the program, we managed to get a 100% pass. The members of the program received great grades which resulted in them studying at universities, colleges and some are in gap year doing youth programs.

Q. Has the COVID 19 pandemic affected your program?

Last year was our first year and even with the difficulties of covid-19, we managed to adjust to the new norm of doing mentoring and tutorial sessions online. We managed to achieve a 100% pass from all the learners that we mentored. 

Q. What are you studying and how are you planning on using your qualification to change the world?

I am studying Bachelor of Social Sciences specializing in psychology, politics & governance at the University of Cape Town. My vision is to become a Learning specialist for my country and across Africa.

Mxolisi Manana, 25 – Johannesburg 

Mxolisi Manana is the chairperson of the South African Students Congress (SASCO) in the Greater Johannesburg region. He oversees branches of SASCO in TVET colleges and universities as it relates to policy implementation through student representative councils.  

Q. The 2021 academic year did not start on a good note for students. Are there any victories so far?

Yes, there are victories. The academic year started with protests due to fee increments, academic exclusions, and a whole range of issues. We have written to big institutions asking for donations, and network providers for data, since we’re using online learning. These institutions are willing. 

Q. Why did you decide to follow this career path? 

When I got to university, I got assistance from a SASCO member who assisted me to register, get accommodation, and funding issues. So I think that with the little knowledge that I have, I can also assist other students. 

Q. What are your future leadership role ambitions? 

I think time will tell. Time and space will dictate where we end up in our political careers. But secondary to that, I see myself in the Department of Higher Education and Training as a Director-General in that department which will see me taking strategic decisions, assisting students with NSFAS policing and implementations, and guiding the department towards what is right for students and what is deserving of them.

There you have it, folks, these are some of the leaders who we predict will be in key leading roles in the future. We wish them all the best in their future endeavours!