Vusani Mandiwana (32)
PhD research scientist, CSIR
Vusani Mandiwana was born and raised in the rural village of Ha-Mandiwana, Nzhelele, Limpopo and is a PhD (Pharmaceutics) research candidate as well as being one of the youngest women deputy chairpersons of the Gauteng Alumni Chapter Committee for the University of Venda. She is involved in a project which addresses the shortfalls in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.
She mentors high school students who wish to pursue careers in the area of science, technology and engineering. Guiding people to become the best version of themselves is key to her work. She believes in honing the full individual and assists in improving the image of individuals to be aligned with their personal style and goals — she believes in matching the outside with the inside.
The passionate mom was nominated as one of the best MSc students for the CSIR-MSM Excellence Awards in 2014 and prides herself on mirroring the characteristics she wants her sons to encompass one day.
The loss of her husband in a car accident four years turned her world upside down. Following his death she decided to live her life and not question her purpose after being stuck in a comfort zone. She started travelling, becoming involved in community projects, helping her children and is dedicating her energy to things that matter the most for her. Success, she has come to understand, is relative for everyone. Contentment and happiness while helping others is key for her, striking a balance with things she values most.
She is inspired by people who defy the norm and follow their passion despite the odds being stacked against them. This gives her hope when times are tough. She is also revived by walks in nature and by reading.
Mandiwana is working on her legacy to create a life coaching school where she wants to empower women of all ages. This will work hand-in-hand with her image consultancy, helping to build confidence in young South Africans. — Leigh Wils