23 July 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Barend Nagel
Dr Musawenkosi Saurombe and Innocensia Mangoato
Dr Musawenkosi Saurombe and Innocensia Mangoato: 2 of 200 Young South Africans honoured by the Mail & Guardian.

The one is Africa’s youngest PhD graduate. The other made waves with her research into cannabis as a cancer treatment. Dr Musawenkosi Saurombe and Innocensia Mangoato are both lecturers at the University of the Free State (UFS). Now they also share the title of 2019 Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans. Dr Saurombe is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Industrial Psychology and Innocensia Mangoato is a lecturer in the Department of Pharmacology.

For the past 13 years the award has been a career launch pad for many leaders. These Kovsies are however already “on course to touch the world with their greatness”, in the words of the Mail & Guardian. 

In Dr Saurombe’s case, this honour comes after being named the 2018/19 Youth Leader of the Year by the Institute of People Management for being Africa’s youngest PhD graduate and contributing significantly to the talent management field. On the other hand, Mangoato earned the 2018 South African Women in Science Award for her research on using cannabis in cancer treatment
A mark of distinction

On 27 June 2019 Dr Saurombe’s name lit up the screen as the Education category winner at a gala dinner held in Sandton. Mangoato was recognised as one of the country’s brightest minds in the Science and Technology category.

Mastering science of excelling

Mangoato believes that the science of excelling is taught through living as an example. “The fact that a village girl can be recognised for conducting impactful research that will potentially result in new knowledge production in the area of drug development and using natural products should encourage more young people to achieve greatness regardless of their circumstances.”

The Pharmacology lecturer and researcher remains persistent in pursuit of her PhD and ground-breaking research in cancer-drug resistance. 

Youngest PhD graduate in Africa

At four years old, a young Dr Saurombe started school in Botswana. She was promoted past a few grades due to being more advanced than her peers. This led her to complete high school at 15 and enrol at North-West University as a first-year student the following year.

In 2017, she was celebrated across the continent as being the youngest PhD graduate at 23. “I registered for my PhD without knowing where I’d get the money to fund my studies,” said Dr Saurombe reflecting on how financial constraints encouraged her to complete her PhD in one-and-a-half years. 

Dr Saurombe joined the UFS earlier this year as a senior lecturer in Industrial Psychology and continues her research into the relationship between employer and employee focusing on talent value proposition.

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