Meet Musawenkosi Saurombe: One of Africa ‘s Youngest PHD Holder

Patience Raibo
5 Min Read

Musawenkosi Donia Saurombe, the youngest female Ph.D. graduate in Africa, received her Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in industrial psychology at the age of 23 in 2017.

Saurombe is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Johannesburg since 2021, where she lectures courses in Human Resource Management and Industrial Psychology and supervises postgraduate research at honors, master’s, and doctoral levels.

Musa’s Ph.D. thesis was among the best and she passed without any modifications. She centered her remarks on the management’s view of the talent value proposition for academic staff at a South African higher education institution

The scholar has received numerous prizes and plaudits for her ongoing contributions to the field of education and society at large, as well as for her work as a civic innovator, particularly concerning women and young people.

She enrolled in college at age 16, beginning with a BCom, and graduated at age 19. She graduated with honors and a master’s degree with distinction when she was 20 and 21, respectively, paving the way for her postgraduate studies.

At the infant age of four, Musawenkosi Saurombe began attending Phakalane Primary School in Botswana. Her time at Phakalane was brief because she later transferred to Legae Primary and Legae Academy High School.

She skipped Grade 3 and was promoted to Grade 4 after just one term. After completing matric at the age of 16, she decided to move to South Africa to pursue a bachelor’s degree at North-West University (NWU).

Even though it may seem like Saurombe breezed through her academic requirements, she faced financial challenges, particularly while studying at the university level.

“My father is a teacher by profession and my mother had to work several part times jobs to pay for my fees. Even then, sometimes I would run out of resources during the month and be always reluctant to tell my parents when I ran out of food or money because I knew the sacrifice they were already making,” she said in an Interview with New Zimbabwe 

“I am the youngest Ph.D. graduate in Africa and recently got promoted to Associate Professor I have changed my title from Doctor to Professor. This is a huge milestone because in the academic space it typically takes quite some time to get to this point in your career and the professoriate has traditionally been reserved for academics who are much more senior in age, although that is gradually changing”, she said.

I am very grateful and I continue to do my best, especially considering that I am a wife and a mother which sometimes makes my colleagues wonder how I do it. Some even joke about me having more hours in a day than others, but honestly, it is simply by God’s grace. It’s not easy, but I just do the best that I can, and I am grateful to have a supportive husband who empowers me to continue flourishing in my career and as a person”, she said.

“I’m not sure what my next step will be towards achieving my ultimate goal, but I know it will always be a beautiful one. When you reach each milestone, celebrate it, express gratitude, and move on to the next level in our ongoing research for life’s purpose and need to recognize each accomplishment, this is the essence of who we are as humans.”

“Additionally, I support equal opportunity as an African. While I work to empower women, I feel that the inverse ratio is undesirable because we must also produce males who are empowered so that they may be worthy equals to our empowered young women”, narrated the mother of one.

“I want to be remembered as a true African child. There is a lot of public contention on that subject – my identity – but I believe my identity is centered around each of the African countries that have been pivotal in establishing me into the person I am and continue to evolve into, none of which I can equate any less than the other in importance and contribution to who I am. Hence, I consider myself as an epitome of what it is to be an African.”

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