PhD candidate, Ms Mbali Vilakazi, is representing South Africa and UKZN at the Golden Key Honour Society Leadership Summit, which opened in Chicago in the United States on 15 February.
The 26-year-old published author from Uvongo on KwaZulu-Natal’s south coast said she was extremely proud and grateful to attend the summit where she shared her academic and career successes with the audience.
‘What I am most proud of is that I am living proof that a small town African girl with big dreams can make a positive impact and influence at a global level,’ said Vilakazi. ‘I am also grateful for the opportunity to travel to the summit and have a chance to interact with leaders from other parts of the world, including first world countries. I believe all Africans need to be empowered through leadership opportunities gained from first world countries,’ said Vilakazi.
Selection to the summit is based on academic performance, leadership skills and the motivation submitted.
The Golden Key Honour Society is an internationally recognised, non-profit organisation operating in more than 400 universities throughout Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Bahamas and the United States. Membership of the Society is by invitation only and applies to the top 15% of students at a university.
The society offers its members exclusive opportunities and introductions made possible by the granting of scholarships and awards, partnerships with major corporations, career advancement and graduate programmes,’ said Vilakazi.
Advising other students to work hard so they can be part of the organisation, Vilakazi said: ‘You will stand out of from the crowd if you are a member of the Golden Key Society and that is what you will need when entering your respective industries in future.’
After graduating with a Master’s degree from UKZN in 2016, Vilakazi – who is currently working as a Shopper Marketing Specialist at Unilever – published a book based on her thesis titled: Causes of Maternal Mortalities in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
‘I was assisted a great deal by the eThekwini Municipality and their Libraries Director, who will put the book in all municipal libraries in the district.’
Losing her father just before starting her first-year of university taught her about perseverance and resilience – factors which have helped her deliver her best at UKZN. Vilakazi said this required self-encouragement and hours of hard work.
Vilakazi thanked the Society for the opportunity and promised to be a good ambassador.
She is currently reading for her PhD in the School of Applied Human Sciences in the Discipline of Communication, Media and Society (CCMS).
Words: Sithembile Shabangu