AS South Africa celebrates Youth Month a young woman from Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal is poised to make waves in the male-dominated field of chemical engineering, thanks to hard work and backing from her mother and a leading petrochemicals company.
Reflecting on the significance of 16 June in our country’s history, Nokubonga Ngqulunga advise other young people to “own” their education. “We grow and learn by the amount that we involve ourselves in, and invest in, the process. Hard work is a pre-requisite to unlocking success,” she said.
Ngqulunga grew up in and matriculated from Estcourt High School. She then moved to Gauteng to attend the University of Johannesburg where she graduated with a B-Tech Chemical Engineering degree.
As a middle child with two sisters, she was raised by her mother, a single parent who understood the value of education. “My mom made sure that all of us attended school and did well academically. From a young age I looked up to and admired my mom, she truly is a superwoman.”
This focus on education and a desire to excel led her to the Engen Maths and Science School at Howard Campus from grade 10.
“I had my first stepping stone when I was afforded the opportunity to attend Engen’s extra classes in maths, science. I attended supplementary classes every Saturday for three years until I matriculated. The EMSS classes really assisted with exam preparation and work progress.”
After school, Ngqulunga was awarded a full bursary from Engen to study at tertiary level.
“Education was always a priority in our household and I think that is why I have never stopped pursuing my studies. I was to attain a BEng (Hons) qualification next and gain as much work experience in different areas of business as possible.”
Ngqulunga is currently a proud Engen Graduate Trainee and works at the campany’s Lubricants Blending Plant in Durban. “It’s only been a month but I have already learnt so much and I’m looking forward to gaining more experience.”
So, what is her secret to success?
“I believe that anything and everything is possible if you put in the hard work and believe in yourself. Having a mentor, who is aligned with your life goal is also a good idea as it helps to ensure that your dreams are realistic and achievable.
“I motivate myself by always trying to remember the bigger picture and what I want to achieve. It may sound like a cliché but there is nothing more powerful than setting realistic goals and being passionate enough to achieve it.”