UCT scientist recipient of SA WISE scholarship

17 March 2003
Leading the way: UCT graduate and current molecular and cell biology honours student Thokozile Lewanika is the recipient of the 2003 SA WISE Penelope and Robert Angus scholarship.

UCT GRADUATE Thokozile Lewanika is the recipient of the 2003 Association of South African Women in Science and Engineering (SA WISE) Penelope and Robert Angus Scholarship.

Lewanika is currently reading for her honours in molecular and cell biology, and is the latest UCT student to receive the scholarship, which was inaugurated in 2000. According to Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan, chair of the SA WISE scholarship committee, Lewanika was the obvious choice because of her passion for her studies and her commitment to science.

“We ask applicants to write a letter of motivation, explaining why they chose their field of study. Thokozile's letter was very well written and immediately stood out, and on the basis of the letter and her results, we felt she was most deserving,” elaborates Chisamy-Turan.

A native of Zambia, Lewanika originally planned to become a medical doctor, but decided against it in her second year of medicine. “I was bored with medicine, to be quiet honest. It was not what I thought it would be. Fortunately, there was a microbiology component that I enjoyed, and I decided, after a lot of encouragement from my lecturers, to switch degrees,” she explains.

Lewanika says she has never regretted her decision, even though it meant she had to leave home and relocate to South Africa. In fact, Lewanika says that SA WISE has fulfilled one of her ambitions: to be part of a fraternity of upcoming and leading women scientists.

“I have always wanted to be part of an organisation that promoted science, and women in the field of science,” she says. “Part of the reason I applied for the SA WISE scholarship is because I wanted to be surrounded by leading women scientists, like Professor [Jennifer] Thomson, who are combining successful careers and family life.”

The Penelope and Robert Angus scholarship is awarded to women who live or study in sub-Saharan Africa, and whose grade point average is 60% or above. The scholarship, worth R10 000, is awarded for one year of study at honours level (or equivalent) in any field of science or engineering.

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