Zikhona Menze, a 28-year-old Maths and Geography tutor at Waumbe Youth Development is currently studying towards her Masters in Conservation Science at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. She is passionate about conserving the environment, its resources and wildlife while creating public awareness about the importance of natural resources. She joined Waumbe in 2016, to inspire youth to relentlessly pursue their goals.
Tell us about your role at Waumbe…
I work as a Facilitator and Tutor in Maths, Geography and Life Skills to Grade 10s and 11s. Most recently, we collaborated on a Life Skills programme with Sinenjongo High School in Milnerton. I also assist the youth in developing their 5-year vision boards and personal goals. Part of my role is to be involved in Waumbe’s ‘Womanhood in the 21st Century’ programme aimed at inspiring young girls and celebrating women excelling in their respective fields. We have different capacitating programmes such as mental health session, building confidence and encouraging young girls to speak out more against injustices.
What motivated you to pursue a career in STEM?
With reference to my own story, I matriculated in 2012 and unfortunately was not accepted into university because I did not meet the requirements for the course I wanted to do. I then went on to study a bridging course in Nature Conservation in Mpumalanga and was advised to register some modules at Unisa while awaiting acceptance at CPUT. Finally, in 2015, I was admitted at CPUT for a National Diploma in Nature Conservation. I did extremely well and finished both my Diploma and BTech in record time. Upon completing my Masters, I plan to grow my career abroad. I am sharing this story with young girls to inspire them to break those barriers by stepping into male dominated industries to challenge the status quo. I hope they see that there is a possibility to be absolutely anything they want to be in life if they believe in their dreams.
How would you motivate a young girl who wishes to follow this path but thinks they are not good enough?
Firstly, I would affirm that they are enough. I would help them believe that the world has better opportunities to inspire them to think big without any fear. We have partnered with organisations that facilitate youth camps with our girls, aimed at raising awareness that there is a better life for them outside the circumstances they face in the township.
Upon completing my Masters, I plan to grow my career abroad. I am sharing this story with young girls to inspire them to break those barriers by stepping into male dominated industries to challenge the status quo.