16 May 2022 | Story Andre Damons | Photo Supplied
Dr Mutshidzi Mulondo
Dr Mutshidzi A Mulondo, lecturer in the Division of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, at the University of the Free State (UFS), during the April graduation ceremonies after she was conferred with an interdisciplinary PhD degree which she completed in 2.5years.

Dr Mutshidzi Abigail Mulondo,a lecturer in the newly established Division of Public Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS), who was conferred with an interdisciplinary PhD during the April graduation ceremonies, will soon be jetting off to North Carolina, in the US, after being accepted for the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship.

Dr Mulondo was conferred a doctor of philosophy degree in Health Professions Education and Community Health on Friday (22 April 2022). She completed this PhD from the departments of Community Health and Health Sciences Education in two and a half years with three published articles, two in international journals and one in a national journal, due to sheer determination. Dr Mulondo will be joining the Mandela Washington Fellowship from the beginning of June 2022. Says Dr Mulondo: “I am delighted to be joining this year’s cohort of fellows. Although I applied for the fellowship hopeful for a positive outcome, it was a wonderful surprise to receive the great news after a rigorous interview process.” 

Looking forward to the most

The fellowship is a flagship programme of the US government – Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), which is focused on leveraging the work of young African leaders for greater impact. Young deserving African leaders are taken on a journey in which they get to engage with leaders in the US in an effort to provide them with a global perspective. For Dr Mulondo, the fellowship will help in her personal/leadership development. Being part of a team instrumental in establishing the first division of Public Health at the UFS, she is also looking forward to networking with colleagues in Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, where she will be placed, and hopes to soak up enough to share when she returns to South Africa.

Dr Mulondo – in her hopes to promote mental wellness – occasionally holds talks advocating for mental health and destigmatisation of mental health issues. She has received notable accolades in her life, including recognition in the Mail and Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans list, in the Health category. She was also previously selected to the Global Young Leaders Conference (GYLC) programme – a leadership journey that develops true global citizens, in which she was hosted in Washington DC and New York in the US. 

Keeping a vision board

“My wonderful mother taught me the principle of keeping a vision board at a young age and she would reiterate the scripture, ’Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it – Habakkuk 2:2’. I have taken this practice right up to my adult years. I set my mind on a goal, write down manageable steps to achieve that goal, do my part and trust that God will do His,” says Dr Mulondo.

According to her, she was taught to set goals on a daily basis at her high school which followed the Accelerated Christian Education programme. It was here where she was taught to set one main goal for the day, which she worked hard to not procrastinate about. “Although I am generally a goal-oriented person, I am grateful for my support system that keeps me both focused on my purpose and grounded in life.”

What is next?

Dr Mulondo says she is passionate about mental health wellness, mentorship and getting involved in projects that speak to that. She is currently the co-advisor of the Golden Key International Honor Society, UFS chapter, which gives her an opportunity to stay close to her passions. 

As someone who has struggled with imposter syndrome in her life, one day when her schedule allows, she hopes to write a book based on her experiences, lessons from her brilliant mentors, and the research she would have gathered, to become a published book author. “I know imposter syndrome is a silent and debilitating battle many struggle with. My desire is to see all of us win our invisible battles and show up in this world as our best selves.

“It is my hope that my accomplishments encourage one little girl who hears about me. I challenge myself to set what may feel like impossible goals for the coming generation that is watching. May they believe that anything is indeed possible for those that believe”, says Dr Mulondo of her vision.

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