27 August 2021 | Story Dr Cindé Greyling | Photo Sonia Small (Kaleidoscope Studios)
Transforming the South Campus to a digitised university, Dr Maria Madiope is a resilient and strong guardian of the future generations.

Dr Maria ‘Marinkie’ Madiope, who grew up in Garankuwa Pretoria, is not your average professional woman. Her academic record speaks of vigilant style and resilient independence. Dr Madiope is currently the South Campus Principal at the University of the Free State (UFS) in Bloemfontein.

What is the best thing about your job?
It has given me the opportunity to transform the South Campus to a digitised university. I cannot express the feeling I have when welcoming students to the UFS and then presenting qualifications to them, especially to students who have gone through very traumatic home, personal, or academic times. 

What is the best and worst decisions you have ever made?
The best decision I have ever made was embracing education and making sure that I am not only certificated but learn to empower others in a very humble way. I don't want to think about my worst decisions. There's too much regret in everyone's lives to maintain our wavering joy.

What does the word woman mean to you?
It describes a proud warrior. A resilient and strong guardian of the future generations. The archetypal matriarch who is fearless and also tender, powerful but not afraid to demonstrate weakness, and self-sufficient yet dutiful. She is everything and anything, because she knows that she in control of whoever she wants to be. Her entire being is guided by this knowledge and self-love.

Which woman inspires you, and why?
My mom inspires me. She always had a smile on her face no matter how hard she worked, and she loved everyone. Her greatest strength is her ability to let nothing, and no one, remove her crown. “Strong winds may blow, but a QUEEN will bobby pin that thang in place and persevere because she is more than a conqueror.” I am also inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise about the struggle to overcome prejudice and injustice. It is one of Maya Angelou's most popular poems. When read by victims of wrongdoing, the poem becomes a kind of anthem, a beacon of hope for the oppressed and downtrodden.

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