Thulile Khanyile has three aspects to her professional life: as a lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand, as a scientist doing research towards developing an HIV vaccine and as the co-founder and co-director at Nka’Thuto EduPropeller. While for most, even one of these would be a daunting responsibility, Khanyile has struck a balance through attentive planning and delegation and a flexible approach to changing dynamics. She also attributes her success to an “incredible support system in my family and friends that makes me believe that I have the potential to do more”.
Nka’Thuto EduPropeller is a nonproft organisation works with primary and high school learners from grades 1 to 11 in townships and rural areas and aims to spark an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers. Nka’Thuto EduPropeller employs 12 young people, the majority of whom are STEM graduates.
Khanyile, who has a master’s in molecular medicine and haematology from Wits and a certificate in bio-Innovation and entrepreneurship from Stanford University’s Spark programme, says it is her responsibility to “make science relatable to even the most marginalised in society” and believes that the “thought process of a scientist alongside the principles of the broader STEM industries have the potential to contribute to the development of the African economy”. Of the research she does at Wits, Khanyile hopes to contribute to the body of knowledge for the development of an HIV vaccine — and mould the minds of her students “beyond the content in the textbooks to become leaders in society”.