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13 August 2020 | Story Eugene Seegers | Photo Charl Devenish
Gugu believes in empowering students to successfully complete their higher-education journey.

Gugu Wendy Tiroyabone is Head of Advising, Access and Success in the Centre for Teaching and Learning. She says she is on a journey to become a champion womxn, with her advocacy for student access with success in higher education being the vehicle that is propelling her. Gugu says her superpower is “knowing how to win without being loud”.

1. Please tell us about yourself: Who are you and what do you do at the university? 
Self-awareness, simplicity, and service is who I am and what I, Gugu Wendy Tiroyabone (née Khanye), embody. My Zulu name, loosely translated, means ‘precious’, and I firmly believe that the work I do at the UFS Centre for Teaching and Learning — academic advising and RPL — align with my name, serving students in this invaluable experience of being afforded the opportunity to access higher education and ultimately being guided to success.

2. Is there a woman who inspires you and who you would like to celebrate this Women’s Month, and why?
Mmm … tricky to single out only one. There are a few — top of the charts is most certainly my mother, a servant leader — in everything she does; she is there to listen, hear and understand, empathise, heal, build, and is committed to the growth of others. Aunty Basetsana (Bassie) Kumalo is another womxn I celebrate – television personality, businesswomxn, and philanthropist — a brand that inspires me to be the best version of me so that I can reach my dreams.

3. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your life that have made you a better woman?
I would say one of the biggest challenges I faced in my early 20s would have to be low self-confidence and a low self-esteem. Those who know me would disagree, but unfortunately it gets the best of us and it was my reality. I struggled with acceptance, and when I took some time out to check in with myself, I learned that knowing how to win without making a noise is my superpower; since realising this, I refuse to live below my potential.

4. What advice would you give to a 15-year-old you?
You don’t have to change your dreams to realise them; rather, as you grow, adapt and adopt your approaches to the season/year — these small adaptations will propel you towards fulfilling your dreams. Someone else can make your dreams come true, but only you can realise your dreams.

5. What would you say makes you a champion woman, or a champion woman of the UFS?
I would like to believe that I am still becoming a champion womxn, not there just yet. But my advocacy for student access with success in higher education is what is driving me towards being a champion womxn – without meaningful access, student success is hollow. So, we need to work collectively as a sector and institution to achieve this.





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