Musawenkosi Saurombe: North-West University Student Emerges Africa’s Youngest Female Ph.D Graduate


Musawenkosi Saurombe has made history as one of the youngest students on the continent to obtain a Ph.D. from the North-West University Mafikeng, South Africa.

Just at the age of 23, Sourambe recently aced her Ph.D. in Industrial Psychology. Her academic feat was very remarkable, in the sense that her Ph.D. thesis sailed through without corrections. In fact, the university described her thesis as ‘flawless’.

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Her thesis was said to have explored the topic ‘Talent Value Propositions’ (commonly known as labor value proposition) for academic staff members in higher education – a topic she thoughtfully selected in order to harness her field of study.

The bubbly and optimistic Saurombe was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, on May 24, 1993, and was just 3 weeks old when her family moved to Gaborone, Botswana.

After her matriculation at the age of 15, she relocated to South Africa to embark on her studies – BCom degree – at the age of 16.

Seeing her through was not easy for her family, as her father who is a teacher had to sell his car to help out with financial demands in her third year.

Going down memory lane, Saurombe recounted: “I was such a hyperactive child. At 5, I was sent to Grade 1 because my teachers saw that I adapted and finished my work quicker than other children. They felt I needed something more challenging.

The transition to a different country and a different academic system was not an easy one. I always tried to enjoy myself but found the campus social scene very foreign, except for a few parties I attended where I could at least dance because I love to dance. I never wanted to be a geek or that nerd walking around with books all the time, but I knew I could not let whatever fun that was around me influence my character and the teachings of my upbringing.”

Amazed by her academic feat, the prestigious Golden Key International Honour Society based in Tucson, Arizona in the United States, and the ministry of higher education affirmed that Musawenkosi is the youngest woman to be bestowed with a Ph.D.

Musawenkosi Saurombe

Weighing in, NWU vice-chancellor Professor Dan Kgwadi said the university hopes to see more students like Musawenkosi Saurombe.

Kgwadi said: “We are very excited; the increasing research capacity at our institution is enabling us to see more students like Musa. When I think of her, I get excited to see a researcher who is able to maintain a social life, yet perform.”

A chronicled account of her academic career showed that she completed her undergraduate studies in three years, Honours degree in one year (at 19), Master’s – with distinction – in a year (at 21) and Ph.D. over two years.

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Presently, she is a member of a doctoral fellowship at North West University. She also teaches and supervises postgraduate students at NWU’s campus in Mahikeng.

Apparently, Musawenkosi Saurombe has now joined a list of elite record-breaking young scholars that have impressed the world. She now shares the spot with the likes of Dr. Sandile Kubheka who graduated in 2014 from the University of KwaZulu-Natal with an MBChB.