She’s only 25, but Dr Musawenkosi Donia Saurombe has already achieved the status of senior academic at the University of the Free State. This is because her schooling was fast-tracked and she completed high school at the age of 15.
She enrolled at the University of the North West at the age of 16, and by the time she was 21, she had attained her master’s in industrial psychology. She wasted no time and delved right into her PhD the following year, completing this qualification also, in a record time of two years, breaking an astounding academic record by becoming the youngest female PhD in Africa, at the age of 23.
Saurombe’s research work focuses on talent management and talent value proposition which entails the investigation of the relationship between employee and employer. Saurombe’s work explores the psychological contract that often exists between the two parties: what the employer offers to the employee for their expertise and contribution to the organisation and what the employee expects to receive for their expertise, commitment and contribution to the organisation.
Although it may seem like she breezed her way through her academic qualifications, Saurombe experienced financial constraints throughout her studies, especially at undergraduate level.
“My father is a teacher by profession and my mother had to work several part time jobs to pay for [my] fees. Even then, sometimes I would run out of resources during the month and was always reluctant to tell my parents when I ran out of food or money because I knew the sacrifice they were already making,” she says.
Her appointment as senior lecturer has been significant for her. Acknowledging the fact that many other academics take many years to reach this status, she admits that the appointment was a surprise to her because it was contingent on the work she had been teaching on a junior level for the past two years, at North West University.
Saurombe is very aware of her status as a role model to many young Africans. “This means I must live my life with great honour and strive for success”, she smiles. – Welcome Lishivha