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Guys in STEM – Dr. Peter Magombeyi

I remember when I was about to write my final exam, and I very nearly almost did not write the exam because of unpaid fees.

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Dr. Peter Magombeyi
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“In the mornings we would find goats hanging around inside the classrooms and the first chore of the day was to chase out the goats (which was quite a lot of fun), and clean up the dusty classrooms.

Dr. Peter Magombeyi narrates his story to us of how he managed to overcome some of life’s most difficult challenges, and still managed to become the medical doctor that he always dreamed of becoming.

My name is Dr. Peter Magombeyi, and I was born at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, in 1993. I lived in Bulawayo for a while, then moved to rural Gokwe with my parents. I come from a polygamous family and therefore I have four parents; my father and his three wives. I have 27 or 28 siblings; I’m actually not sure and I will have to confirm the exact number with my parents. Growing up in such a large family, we faced numerous challenges, but I can say that the biggest challenge was the sharing of scarce resources, mainly food of course – but somehow we managed to get by.

I cherish growing up in a large family in rural Zimbabwe. My siblings and I did everything together; we all went to the same church, we used to cook together in one big pot, we would share meals from the same big dishes, and I would herd cattle with all my brothers. We were truly united as a family, and we did not even realise as children that we shared different mothers. My father instilled in us a sense of unity which was unmatched, and we still maintain that to this day.

Guys in STEM - Dr. Peter Magombeyi Asante Afrika
Dr. Peter Magombeyi

I did my primary schooling at Mutehwe Primary School in Nembudziya, Gokwe. I went on to Svibe Secondary School, also in Gokwe. Due to financial challenges, I only managed to register to write seven subjects for my Ordinary Level exams (Maths, Biology, Integrated Science, Physical Science, English, Accounting, and Agriculture), though I would have loved to register for more subjects in order to widen my prospects. Interestingly enough, there were no Science subjects at my school, and I had to take them up on my own. This also meant that we had no Science Labs or anything like that. In the mornings we would find goats hanging around inside the classrooms and the first chore of the day was to chase out the goats (which was quite a lot of fun), and clean up the dusty classrooms. I had already set my mind on doing medicine at university, and so I had to ask members of staff to tutor me and assist me in the science subjects, as well as acquiring textbooks for me. Throughout my entire young life I had only ever attended one career guidance session when I was in Form 3, and it had made me realise that if I wanted to become a doctor, I needed to do Science subjects.

Throughout secondary school, the main challenge that I faced was lack of resources. I remember sharing one textbook in class with three or four other students, and everyone wanted to do well so there would be a lot of competition to possess that textbook. We also had to walk very long distances to school. In my case, I had to walk 12km to and from school in all sorts of weather conditions.

Another big challenge was food insecurity. Hunger was real, worse with the change of seasons when food was scarce especially for such a big family. I thank God that we managed to make use of the little that we had and we overcame the challenges and managed to pursue our dreams. At home, my father used to have a policy that you can only go to the city (Bulawayo), if you pass your ‘O’ levels, and that was the motivation I needed to get very good grades and escape the rural life. After moving back to the city when I had passed my ‘O’ levels, I enrolled at Mpopoma High School for my Advanced Level, an extremely competitive school. I studied Maths, Biology and Chemistry, and managed to score 14 out of 15 points. My results enabled me to enrol in the Faculty of Medicine at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Bulawayo in 2013.

Guys in STEM - Dr. Peter Magombeyi Asante Afrika
Dr. Peter Magombeyi

Due to that one life-changing Career Guidance session that I had experienced, I had no doubt in my mind that my dream was to do medicine and become a doctor. It was a vision which was clearly enshrined in my mind. I loved the thought of saving lives and I also love people and I knew I would love working with them. Had I not been able to be admitted at medical school, my other options would have been a career in Pharmacy or possibly Chemical Engineering. The best part of being at medical school for me was when the people in the village and in my community started calling me ‘Doc’ from day one of medical school. I absolutely loved that and they even started consulting and asking for advice about their medical problems.

During medical school, once again the main challenge faced was lack of resources. It was very difficult to make ends meet. When the economic challenges in Zimbabwe started to worsen, I could not pay my fees on time. I remember when I was about to write my final exam, and I very nearly almost did not write the exam because of unpaid fees. It is by God’s grace that I was allowed into the exam room under special circumstances, and I actually managed to pay up the fees owed when I was now working at Harare Hospital. Overcoming these challenges was not easy, but as a member of the Student Representative Council, I had made some very good friends there and it then became easier to knock at their doors when I was facing financial challenges. Being a member of the SRC also placed me in good books with the university authorities such as the Registrar, the Bursar, the Dean of Students etc., and again this made it easy for me to approach them and request their assistance with whatever problems I may have been facing. I am forever indebted to all the above mentioned people for their assistance at my points of need.

Medical school is absolutely difficult. It is time consuming, it drains all your energy, it deviates your attention from all social platforms and all your time is centred on studying or being at the hospital. I knew I had the zeal to become a doctor and that is what kept on inspiring me. It always rejuvenated my mind whenever the pressure became too much. I was also the first member of my large family to go to university and that also pushed me on to success. That definitely gave me the strength that I needed to push until I became a doctor. I knew that if I succeeded I would be able to help my family and my community and make them proud. I also knew the magnitude of the responsibility that becoming a doctor came with; it meant that I would be saving the lives of Zimbabwean people and Africa at large, and for me that was a big goal that kept me inspired throughout medical school.

It is very unfortunate that I was unable to attend my graduation ceremony because I was already in exile in South Africa, because of political reasons. However, I am extremely grateful that I managed to complete medical school without having to write any supplementary exams or to repeat any modules. I can boldly say that I was not the best student in my class, but I do know that I was very hardworking. Being in the SRC Leadership added on the pressure to my academic load but I never took that as an excuse to fail or to neglect my academic work.

After completing medical school, I applied for a job at Harare Central Hospital in Zimbabwe’s capital city. I purposely wanted to work in Harare because I wanted to join the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), which is headquartered in Harare. I was certain in my mind that one day I would be the president of the ZHDA and I knew that moving to Harare would present me with that opportunity. Harare is where mainstream politics happens in Zimbabwe, and my goal as a leader was to be able to represent the views of the national doctors to the politicians. On being accepted at Harare Hospital, I set out to work as a Junior Resident Medical Officer (Junior Doctor) and in no time at all I had achieved my goal of becoming the ZHDA president. I look back at my time at Harare Hospital with a smile and great fondness. It was an amazing experience and I have wonderful memories of serving my country and representing doctors, patients and the people of Zimbabwe at large, at national level.

As my time at Harare Hospital came to an abrupt end, I had to start planning for the future. God-willing, in the next five years I will have specialised as a Gynaecologist. It will take me another four years at university to reach that point and by God’s grace I will achieve that. I also see myself as a future policy-maker in Zimbabwe, in as far as the Healthcare System is concerned.

My biggest achievement so far is attaining my BSc. Degree in Medicine and Surgery. Next to that, I am proud of the good public relations that I enjoy with the people of Zimbabwe and the international community.               

In as far as Covid-19 is concerned, it has not changed or affected my professional perception of the medical field in any way. The way I see it, it has actually alerted us of the importance of a functional health delivery system. It has also exposed inadequate health delivery systems around the world and it is unfortunate to say that Zimbabwe’s health care system is one of the most inadequate in the region and there is so much that needs to be done to resuscitate it.  

Guys in STEM - Dr. Peter Magombeyi Asante Afrika
Dr. Peter Magombeyi

To my young brothers and sisters, especially those from disadvantaged communities, I want to encourage you and tell you that everything is possible. Never give up on your dreams and on your vision. Maintain positive thoughts always. That on its own will give you the positive energy that you need to keep on pursuing your dreams. If you want to become a doctor, work hard and maintain focus, and you will become the doctor that you want to be. Try by all means to ask for help in order for you to achieve your dreams. Knock on as many doors as possible until you have all the help and all the answers that you need. Nothing but your thoughts can stop you from achieving your goals, so remain positive. Your difficult background actually prepares you for better fortunes, so work hard, and never give up!

As Narrated to Gugu Mpofu

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Careers

Women in STEM – Dr. Diana Kululanga

I started my clinical work as a student, and witnessed the deaths of many children from diseases that can be prevented

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Dr. Diana Kululanga
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Saving people’s lives has always been what Dr. Diana Pempho Lisosa Kululanga wanted to do from a very young age. She tells us about her journey to becoming a medical doctor, and why she chose that career path.

Can you tell us about yourself? What do you do, and what does your job entail?

I am a medical doctor by profession. I work at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital  (QECH), which is the biggest tertiary hospital in Malawi. I see patients with different conditions, and work with the QECH health personnel to manage their diseases and conditions.  

Women in STEM - Dr. Diana Kululanga Asante Afrika
Dr Diana Kululanga

Was that always your dream job?

Yes, yes, and yes, a million times yes. 

You mentioned that you chose to do medicine because you wanted to make a direct and almost immediate impact on people’s lives. Can you tell us what you mean by that?

A doctor knows a whole lot about a patient; in one conversation I learn of a person’s illness, beliefs, family, social, economic and mental status, hence I am able to address needs in all these areas. While we are all doing so much for mankind, most are doing it indirectly through policies, laws, education and other activities; yet as a doctor, I work directly with my patients and help them directly. The direct impact of helping a patient recover from a point of death to life again, is joy unspeakable!

Biology was your favourite subject at school and you actually graduated high school as the best Biology student. What other subjects did you focus on in order to qualify for medicine at university and which university did you attend?

I focused on science subjects – Mathematics, Physical Science, and of course English. I Attended University of Malawi, College of Medicine, the only college in Malawi that trains medical doctors.

Women in STEM - Dr. Diana Kululanga Asante Afrika
Dr Diana Kululanga

If you had not been accepted to study medicine for example, what other career path would you have chosen?

Architecture, because beautifully designed, decent houses make me happy.

You were raised by a team of very strong women; a single mother and an overseas aunt who paid your university tuition for over five years out of six, as well as other educated and professional women in your family, including your grandmother. In a poor country like Malawi where girls are told that they cannot go far in school but should get married instead, how important is it to you to educate the girl child? What benefits does educating the girl child bring to a family and to a nation as a whole?

It is of ultimate importance that a nation invests in educating a girl and boy child. I believe that a nation needs the special qualities that distinguish men and women to achieve great things; without the other, there is a delay or a failure in achieving the vision a country bears. An educated girl child is a huge asset to a country and family. An educated woman will always make sure that her children get educated, like my mom did. She encouraged me, believed in me, and supported me. There was never a day where I felt like I couldn’t do anything because I am a girl. She did not just say it, but she showed us that a woman can do anything, for example by riding a bike daily when going to work. I will forever be indebted to my family for the culture of educating a girl child. My great grandparents, Mr and Mrs Chiphwanya, saw potential and believed in their daughters. To them, their daughters were not just objects for marriage, but seeds worth watering, and the harvest still feeds the generations that follow. I have grandmothers and aunts who have worked,  in fact led, in the corporate world, and there is no doubt in me that I will take the same road. I draw my inspiration from my aunt, Mrs Maureen Kachingwe, who is a lawyer, and I’m so thrilled and blessed to be the first doctor in the family.

Medical school was obviously not very easy; can you tell us about the challenges you faced as a student and moreso as a female medical student? How did you overcome those challenges?

The challenges were from internal and external sources. My internal challenge was the ability to work out my life on my own. I had spent the previous years of school following schedules, and now I had to develop a schedule that works, given the numerous things I had to learn, study and practice, while having only myself as the overseer of the schedule. Secondly, there were more males than females in my class, and as such, I had to work hard to survive and not really to excel.

The external challenges were the financial challenges; whilst I was in my second year of college,the government decided to increase the tuition fees. I am grateful that my aunt Angella Laura Horton did not back down. However, I still had hiccups in terms of my other needs, other than tuition fees. However, this motivated me to start considering starting a business .

You are now in the internship phase of your training, which you will be completing in May next year; tell us more about that… the triumphs, the hardships faced, and especially as a woman in a male dominated field?

Well, well, well… the first hardship is the fact that female doctors are assumed to be nurses by patients. It takes a great deal of patience to explain that you are actually a doctor.

The second hardship is patients doubting you because you are a female. They have always been treated by male doctors, and the presence of a female doctor does not sink well within them.

Thirdly, some comments made by colleagues are just gender biased, but I remind myself of the reason why I started on this journey, which is to save lives.  

Once you are done with your internship next year, that will mark eight years of your training to become a medical doctor. What has motivated you to stay strong and keep on pushing to achieve your goal?

I am results oriented, hence I look forward to the end of things, and I endure the process, just like my master Jesus, who for what was set before him endured the cross.  

The financial benefits of being a medical intern in Malawi are not that great. How do you stay motivated to get up and go to work every day and keep on pushing towards your goal?

Medical internship is not the end, it’s just a step in my career. I choose the benefits of this step above financial benefits. This is the step where you learn to be more responsible over another person’s life, and where your decisions have an effect of life and death, hence  they have to be made with the right reasons, and sometimes defended. These are skills needed beyond patient management, but life in general .   

You are a very industrious young woman, and some time last year you had to find ways to fund yourself, as your mum’s work contract had just come to an end. Can you tell us about your initial business ventures which you embarked on with your business partner to fund your well-being during medical school?

I have embarked on several ventures with my business partner Dalitso Kaluwa, and we keep learning. We started in 2016 by selling hair extensions (weaves), and then milk scones.After that we bought a sausage-making machine and sold sausages, and eventually we turned to baking cakes. We had and still have big dreams, and knowing we didn’t have any other source of money, we got into business. Yes, there was a time when I had to support myself with other needs, for example processing paperwork for my internship and my graduation, as well as assisting with other bills at home. My last option was to use the business money, on account that I would return it to the business, which I did after I started receiving my internship salary.

Women in STEM - Dr. Diana Kululanga Asante Afrika
Dr. Diana Kululanga

What were the successes and failures of those business ventures and what did you learn from that experience?

The ultimate success is to maintain partnership. Truth be told, black people seem not to trust each other, and hardly work together for a greater goal. They would rather compete with each other than work together. I count this partnership as a great success, because we have been through the lows and the highs together, and we have managed to stay together.

We have lost money before, not once, not even twice. Business on paperwork is overrated, (laughs). I mean, its good to be positive, but never disregard the threats and weaknesses, which is what we would miss in our plans previously.We have failed to win bids before. When I was going into my final year of college, I wanted to run the college tuckshop. I wanted this opportunity so bad, but unfortunately our proposal was turned down, despite being visionary, good and creative. We have failed to convince a customer before, and worse things still disappointed us.

I have learnt important lessons from each failure. Firstly, you have to keep going regardless of what happens because you only make progress if you keep moving. Secondly, always seek counsel, because there is nothing new under the sun. There is someone willing to share their wisdom, whether for free or at a fee. Never the less, the reward is worth it, for in the multitude of counselors, there is safety (Proverbs 11:14). Thirdly, it takes humility, patience, and a particular level of commitment to a greater goal, to start a small business. One must remember where they are going, and stay focused.  

You have a very industrious circle of friends as well. How important is that in motivating each other, and assisting each other to get through the difficult periods in life?

They say “Show me your friends, and I will show you who you are.” I don’t think you can keep drawing motivation from distant relationships and stay motivated. Sometimes reality hits, and you need real motivation. My circle of friends inspires me big time, I never feel alone, and I enjoy talking with them about business because it is something we all relate to. My boyfriend, Confidence Banda, runs 3in1 Events, planning weddings and other events. My business partner’s boyfriend, Peter Mwamlima, owns  CEPHA Biomedical Solutions, and I have another pair of friends, Dorice and Zengani, who  own Donga Investments. My study partner, Dr. Josephine Gondwe, sells perfumes, and my mentor owns several businesses. There are also other ladies in my circle who sell second hand clothes.

After your business trial and error phase, you then resorted to baking and selling cakes. Tell us more about that. Did you do a course to learn how to bake and decorate cakes? How is that business doing?

Yes, we attended a course on cake decorating on several occasions for the development of our baking skills. This has been the longest time we have been in a particular business, and it keeps getting better. We have grown our customer base as our skills have been improving through investing our time and dedication. We have also employed a lady to help us, thereby contributing to the President’s vision of 1 million jobs. I consider this good progress.

Women in STEM - Dr. Diana Kululanga Asante Afrika
DnD Cakes

How do you market your business?

We mainly use social media and posters. We are on Instagram and @dr_dee_dnd_cakes is our handle. We are currently working on our Facebook page.  

Women in STEM - Dr. Diana Kululanga Asante Afrika
DnD Cakes

You sell your products even at the hospital. With the usual notion that doctors are highly paid, how do you manage to put your pride aside and decide that even as a doctor, you are not shy to move around marketing your products?

One of the lessons I have learnt in business is to be humble, and to commit to a greater goal – I have to do this now for the vision at hand. I meet other doctors selling custom made bags or cosmetics, and it’s just the norm of the day.

Where do you see your business in the next few years?

It’s true that one cannot buy happiness, but one must certainly buy cake, for it is always a good starting point. I therefore want DnD to have spaces in town like coffee shops, where everyone can walk in and enjoy the ultimate pleasure of life – eating cake.

Women in STEM - Dr. Diana Kululanga Asante Afrika
DnD Cakes

How do you manage to balance your studies, your work and your business?

I only commit to what is worthy of my time. I give each of these the most of me whenever required, and never at the expense of the other. My business partner is also very supportive, and working with her certainly lightens the load.  

Women in STEM - Dr. Diana Kululanga Asante Afrika
Diana’s Business Partner, Dalitso Kalua, a Medical Laboratory Scientist working with Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust. 

Learning is a long and continuous process in the medical field. When you are done with your internship, what is the next step? If you are to specialise, what would you specialise in, and how many more years would that take?

After my internship, I want to study for a Master’s Degree in Infectious Diseases, as I have a keen interest in elimination and prevention of infectious diseases which are a huge burden in developing countries. After that, I will specialise in paediatrics.

Why would you want to specialise in that particular field?

When I was 5 years old, our neighbour’s son died from Malaria; it was the first time I ever saw a young person die, and it was strange because I used to think that death was for the grown-ups. I had kind of forgotten about this, until I started my clinical work as a student, and witnessed the deaths of many children from diseases that can be prevented. I therefore would like to join the team that works hard to save the lives of these little angels.

Women in STEM - Dr. Diana Kululanga Asante Afrika
Dr. Diana Kululanga

What are your parting words for a young African girl who is facing challenges but would also love to become a doctor one day?

There is no obstacle that can overcome your desire. Consider your dream as water – through persistence, water strikes through a rock. Never take the advice of those who say you can’t, for they do not exist when you close your eyes and see yourself in a lab-coat, using a stethoscope. When the desire to go after your dream seems to fade, water it with faith through prayer, for this is the evidence of things not yet seen (Hebrews 11:1), and there is  a greater force working for you, not against you. Your story will inspire many, so don’t let them down. I, Dr Diana Kululanga will always be cheering you on, screaming and rooting for you! I did it, you can do it too!

Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu

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Fashion

Sandra Awino Odino – Talks About Being a Model & Entrepreneur in Kenya

From frequenting Kenya’s high-fashion runways, interior designing and owning her own hair extensions brand, professional model and entrepreneur, Sandra Awino Odino, tells us about her journey to becoming the power house that she is.

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From frequenting Kenya’s high-fashion runways, interior designing and owning her own hair extensions brand, professional model and entrepreneur, Sandra Awino Odino, tells us about her journey to becoming the power house that she is.  

Sandra Awino Odino - Talks About Being a Model & Entrepreneur in Kenya Asante Afrika
Sandra Awino Odino

Tell us about your journey in the modelling industry. When did you decide you want to be a model and how did you manage to break into the industry?

I started modelling when i was in high school and after high school i got scouted, trained and signed to a modelling agency. Afterwards, I went for A LOT of auditions and finally booked my first runway show which was an international show and the rest is history.

What do you enjoy most about being a model?

I enjoy dressing up, taking pictures, walking down different runways, traveling, meeting new people and bringing a designer’s idea to life.

Sandra Awino Odino - Talks About Being a Model & Entrepreneur in Kenya Asante Afrika

What are the highlights of your career? What big events have you taken part in and which designers in Kenya have you worked with?

I got to work for African Fashion Fair , Swahili Fashion Week, The AngelsHair Show, Kenya Fashion Week, The Wedding Fair by Kempinski, Afro Hair Show, and The Blue Economy Fashion Show, where I got to meet the President of Kenya and other dignitaries from around the world. I have worked with some of the best designers such as Chela Seurei, Sally Karago, Lucy Rao, Peggy Onyango, Shenu Hooda, Sharon Wendo of Epica Jewellery, Neema Nkatha, Idah Aluoch, Aisha Rotich, and Loise Adhiambo, just to name a few.

What are the challenges faced in the modelling industry in Kenya and what do you think can/should be done to improve on those?

Some of the challenges I face in the modelling industry are that the pay is not so good, or sometimes we don’t get paid at all, scarcity of the jobs etc. I think the modelling agencies should protect models by getting them legitimate jobs which would extremely help the models to become financially independent. Agencies should also stand up for models and fight for their rights.

I also wish that international agencies would do more recruitment of Kenyan models, because the talent here is abundant. Most of us want to go international, but breaking through that glass ceiling is very tough. It would be really great if more international agencies came to scout in Kenya.

You also work as an interior designer. Tell us more about that. When and how did you get into that industry? What kind of services/products do you provide?

Yes I work also as an interior designer and it has always been my passion to beautify spaces and transform houses into homes. I studied interior Design at El Interior Designers and afterwards I started practicing it. The services i provide are soft furnishings, consulting, wallpaper installation and upholstery.

Apart from being a model and interior designer, you also own your own brand of hair extensions. Can you tell us how that came to be and what inspired your decision to start selling your own hair extensions? Do you produce them or do you have a supplier? Who is your target market?

Yes my hair extension line is called Rubellite Extensions and I have had the idea for almost a year now. I decided to take a leap of faith and I did it. What inspired the idea of my hairline is that I wanted women to look great. Hence, if you are called for an impromptu event, you can simply lay your hair clip-on of my extension and you are good to go. I have a supplier who provides me with the extensions and my target market is ladies who are 18-60 years old.

Sandra Awino Odino - Talks About Being a Model & Entrepreneur in Kenya Asante Afrika
Rubellite Hair Extensions
Sandra Awino Odino - Talks About Being a Model & Entrepreneur in Kenya Asante Afrika
Rubellite Hair Extensions Campaign

In April this year you embarked on an extraordinary project which was photographically documenting how black women are normally not used by big companies in Kenya when advertising cosmetics. Can you tell us more about that project and did it achieve the desired results?

For some time I noticed that various companies in Kenya were using only white models on their billboards, and so I called some of my friends and we came up with a mood board. We then did a photoshoot which we wanted people of colour to relate to, and the outcome was OUTSTANDING. Unfortunately we did not get the results we were hoping for because soon after, the pandemic had hit the country hard and there was a total lockdown. So we have had such a hard time pitching our idea to the targeted companies. It was an exciting experience though, and I learnt so much from it.

You are an enterprising woman. What drives you and motivates you to be so entrepreneurial and how do you balance your business ventures and your personal life?

My drive and motivation comes from my mother; she is an amazing role model and she inspires and encourages me to not stop until I achieve all my dreams. My family is very supportive of what I do so it makes it easier for me to balance my business and personal life.

Sandra Awino Odino - Talks About Being a Model & Entrepreneur in Kenya Asante Afrika

What are your parting words for the young African upcoming model and entrepreneur?

Put God first! If you can’t stop talking about it, don’t stop working for it. Believe in yourself and NEVER give up.

Follow Sandra on IG @lasandrah254 and @rubellite_extensions

Image Credits

👗: @afrovazidesignhouse; 📷 @afrikanfilmstudio, jkiragu; Jewellery 💍: @Frankartscreations; 💄: Mutisya H, Sharon Atieno, mdeizimakeup; Hair: @rickykish

Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu

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Careers

10 Things You Should Have Known At University

A few words for those moving towards, or are still in the undergrad years.

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Hazel Lifa

Having passed through that fuzzy time many call undergrad years, I saw many fellow students who failed to make it to the other side because they lacked chill, and a bit of foresight. Even as a grad student at a different institution, the same sad situations seemed to arise. Undergrad days should be the best time of one’s life, but how to get the most out of that period in life, and still make it to graduation, seems to be a maze to some. Hence a few words for those moving towards, or are still in the undergrad years.    

10 Things You Should Have Known At University Asante Afrika

1. Actions have consequences.

So many young adults at this point in life are too preoccupied with the newfound freedom that comes with tertiary education, that this notion doesn’t occur to many, until it’s too late. The “Yeah I’m young and nothing can touch me” way of thinking is detrimental; it’s how many get arrested, expelled, or worse. Be careful, don’t let instant gratification leave you with consequences that will last a lifetime.

2. When it comes to sex, be careful who you lay with.

Intercourse is all the rage around this time, who’s having it and who’s being called the best at it. With that said, STDs and STIs are real, and no laughing matter. If you must partake in sex, make sure YOU are ready, it is with the right person and most importantly, you know it comes with great responsibility. Remember there are no ‘backsies’ when it comes to herpes or HIV. If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

“With that said, STDs and STIs are real, and no laughing matter.”

3. Friends are great, but be cautious of who you hang around.

According to Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Having friends isn’t a crime, but try to make sure you benefit from these connections – not monetary wise, but intellectually and spiritually. Some of the people we keep around us bring us down, they do not bring value to us or challenge us in any way. Aspire to do the same for your friends, make a difference in their lives and be honest; yes, men will be your downfall! Watch out for those characters that always bring trouble to your doorstep, get you involved in shady dealings, or just attract drama ALL the time. And remember, not everyone who smiles at you is your friend.

10 Things You Should Have Known At University Asante Afrika

4. Always have a plan on how to get home.

This one is specifically aimed at my ladies out there, there will always be a hot party you absolutely have to attend, but first and foremost before you leave, do you have a definite solid plan of getting home? At ‘someone’s mercy’ is a very dangerous place to be; be able to decide that you are tired or don’t want to be somewhere, and leave. Make sure you have money set aside just for an Uber ride home, and make a designated sober roster in place.

(In your friend group, have a schedule that dictates who is the designated driver and/or least drunk who can be the sound of reason for the group).

5. This is the time to go insane!

Many people get caught in the assumptions that come with university life and the unknown that is after graduation – they forget to actually enjoy this time. It’s the time to be selfish and enjoy the experience (with tip 1 in mind). Don’t deny yourself fun and going to insane parties, just be smart about it; don’t ignore schoolwork or worse warning signs in the name of a ‘good time’. Also, parties, sex, and drinking aren’t what university is all about; this is the time to create and benefit from relationships with people from different backgrounds and cultures. Build yourself an adult friendship circle that will last you a lifetime. Get to know yourself and what you are good at. Experiment even, but don’t forget your end goal and get lost!

6. Looking for popularity at this point is dangerous.

The popularity contest at this stage is so high school, if anything, it is dangerous. One usually attracts the wrong crowd through this, and ends up focusing on superficial things that make you miserable. Often this way of operating will force you into messed up situations you don’t want to be in. Stop trying to recreate your favourite TV series. Being genuine and being yourself goes a long way at this time in your life, you make friends for life, and are more likely to make memories that you will cherish.

7. Stop giving in to peer pressure!

This one is mainly for my fellas, please stop! I know your peers might call you a pussy, challenge your manhood, etc. But don’t fall for it; falling for peer pressure is admitting that you cannot think for yourself. Just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean it’s a smart idea, or worth your time. Showing off and chasing after the ladies and guys is fun and all, but what do you stand for individually? If you don’t stand for anything, you will fall for everything.

8. Everything must come to an end.

Yes, at some point things change; no state in life, just like undergrad, is forever, unfortunately. A handful of relationships are meant to stand the test of time – the majority of relationships are different seasons designed to teach us something. People you were close to during your first year might be distant by your final year. Learn to let go when a once enriching relationship (romantically/platonically) turns sour; keep the lessons you learn, and apply them to real-life, moving forward. It’s a part of life to outgrow relationships, it doesn’t mean they didn’t matter, it just means you grew in different directions or rates.

9. Have a plan, or a general timeline.

Be cautious of being stagnated, stuck in a phase because of lack of direction, or fear of the next step. Map out your life and keep Tip 8 in mind; be ready for your next chapter, and give yourself deadlines. Research how you can better yourself – there is no one specific way to achieve your dreams. Avoid holding on to your youth to the point of being the creepy old dude in class with kids way too young to be friends with you.

10. Lecturers are people just like you – they can be jerks, and wrong too!

No one is saying undermine authority and stage a coup, but be wary of the fact that there are individuals in positions of power who abuse it. At times the abuse of power isn’t as blatant as the professors who want a good time in exchange for a grade. Professors, counsellors etc. are human, and thus they can be extra twisted at times; fail you because they don’t like you, take out their frustrations on you. Some even single you out constantly for no reason, others can be racist. Whatever the situation, be on the lookout.       

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