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North-West University - Youngest PhD graduate at 23 Years, but she skipped Grade 3


A North-West University student will make history by becoming Africa’s youngest most-educated person.
Musawenkosi Donia Saurombe (23) will graduate with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in industrial psychology in October.
Born in Zimbabwe and raised in Botswana, Musawenkosi was always destined for great things. She skipped Grade 3 and was promoted to Grade 4 after just one term. After completing matric at the age of 16, she decided to move to South Africa to pursue a bachelor’s degree at North-West University.
She obtained the degree in 2013 and planned to find a job thereafter. However, with the unemployment rate at 26,6 %, it didn’t work out that way.
“I applied for different jobs but didn’t get a response, so I decided to further my education,” Musawenkosi says.
She defines her family as “lower middle-class”, but they work hard to make ends meet. Her dad is a teacher and mother is self-employed.
Her PhD thesis explored talent value propositions for academic staff members in higher education. She wanted to explore a topic that contributes to her field of study. Her thesis was recently admitted by the university, which means she will also be the university’s youngest person to graduate with a PhD.
Studying industrial psychology was not her first choice, it was her third choice. Now she reckons it was all part of her destiny.
The Golden Key International Honour Society in Tucson, Arizona in America, and the Department of Higher Education recently confirmed that Musawenkosi will be youngest woman holding a PhD.
“This is a testimony that indeed our country is working towards breaking the chains of poverty through education,” North-West University spokesperson Koos Degenaar says.
Musawenkosi says during her master’s degree, her uncle inspired her by showing her an article of a Nigerian man who completed a PhD at the age of 24.
“It became a challenge for me to break the record and it became my source of motivation and inspiration,” she says.
“I am defined by my African name ‘Musawenkosi’, which means ‘God’s grace’, and indeed my life continues to be a story of God’s grace,” she adds.
Musawenkosi says women should stop trying to be like men or better than them because there is much more profound work that needs a woman’s diligent attention.
With a PhD being the highest tertiary qualification, Musawenkosi says she’s looking into job opportunities in academia.
Khabza Mkhize

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