Dr Tozama Qwebani-Ogunleye

Lecturer, Tshwane University of Technology

Dr Tozama Qwebani-Ogunleye strongly believes that one’s destiny is in one’s hands. She’s a lecturer at Tshwane University of Technology who hails from Bizana in the Eastern Cape. “There might be external forces that you do not have control over, but still there will be something that you do have control over and that is yourself — take charge of that,” she says.

Dr Qwebani-Ogunleye did her undergraduate to master’s level at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She obtained her doctorate degree at the University of the Witwaterstrand through a bursary from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

‘’I believe that both challenging and great moments are significant and carry crucial lessons. I also had a share in the pot of failures, allow me to share one of those moments; I failed Biochemistry in my second year at UCT. I think I had become relaxed in the seat of victory and thought I had previously got first class/ distinctions because it was me and forgot about the principles I had to put in place before those distinctions.

“Second year was a wake-up call — if you don’t put the effort you will fail, irrespective of who you are. To make matters worse one of my lecturers said I was a weak science student. I promised myself that I would show him what the weak science student is made of; I was determined to push myself to the PhD level with no more failures. Looking back, I thank him for saying that to my face.’’

In 2014 she was one of the participants in the National Research Foundation role modelling campaign. She is also the author of a motivational book called 20 fantastic life lessons; insights from my life journey.

This year Qwebani-Ogunleye is one of the 25 Emerging Women scientists in South Africa, an initiative sponsored by the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World, the South African Young Academy of Science and the Academy of Science of South Africa.

Her work ethic and belief in pushing boundaries have resulted in a number of notable accomplishments: in 2011 she was honoured with a Women in Science award sponsored by the department of science and technology and Tata Africa. That same year the CSIR Biosciences unit acknowledged her with the best student of the year award (PhD).

This year Qwebani-Ogunleye is one of the recipients of the NRF Thuthuka grant, and will soon get started with her research group. — Tiana Cline

Twitter: @olathozie Facebook: facebook.com/thozama.ogunleyeqwebani Website: http://www.we-can-leadershipinstitute.com/2014_10_01_archive.html YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdxM_KtZ-fU