Women in STEM


Applications Open!

Are you a student or young professional in a STEM field? Do you want the chance to share your journey with others?

If so, now is your chance!


Bredah Nzuki

Bsc. Chemical Engineering student

Age: 22

Favourite animal and why? Butterfly – I’m obsessed with the whole metamorphosis process of changing itself from a moth to this beautiful creature.

Favourite TV show: You

If you could be anything in the world, what would you be? Clairvoyant

Did you expect to find yourself where you are today? Not Really. My life is usually unfolding to me  one day at time.

Where do you hope to see yourself in 5-10 years in terms of your career? I would want to be this woman engineer who has accomplished her dreams and inspires others to do the same.

What it one major lesson you have learnt during your journey in STEM? No concept is really that hard! Sometimes you just need a new perspective of things to finally get a notch of things.

What advice would you give to young girls interested in STEM? If others have climbed the mountains they too can make it to those mountain peaks.

Millicent Kwangwari

Bsc. Electrical Engineering student

Age: 23

Favourite animal and why? Cat, they are cute and entertaining. I hope to pet one when I start living alone.

Favourite TV show: One Piece

If you could be anything in the world, what would you be? The “nelson Mandela” in the Energy industry

Did you expect to find yourself where you are today? No, I could have never imagined myself studying at one of the best universities in Africa, on top of that being amongst the few female students in the EE department. Despite the six years, I spent at a girl’s high school, I had never seen or engaged with a female engineer, or better yet, I did not have an idea of what engineering was or what it could do. Today, I am a leader in the making and a proud advocate for gender equality by means of providing equal opportunities and exposure to young girls and I am looking forward to leveraging my knowledge and skills to help develop my community.

Where do you hope to see yourself in 5-10 years in terms of your career? I am hoping to gather the necessary skills and knowledge in the industry before I can lead projects that focus on the digitalization and decarbonization of the electric grid in Africa. I am also hoping to gain global experience in the power industry and learn how other developed countries are tackling the challenges brought about by this digital age.

What it one major lesson you have learnt during your journey in STEM? I have learnt the importance of teamwork coupled with diversity and inclusion. The effectiveness of a solution to any engineering problem is achieved by efficient team players who are open to learning and willing to listen to different opinions during project execution.

What advice would you give to young girls interested in STEM? Pursuing a degree in STEM will most probably be hard but not impossible…anyone and everyone can pursue and achieve anything that they set their mind on. Be open to challenging the way you think and be willing to learn. Define your goals and focus on achieving them…the journey won’t be smooth but it will definitely be worthwhile when you are ticking off your every goal. Be kind to yourself, look at those who have come before you and focus on how you can better navigate the industry and succeed, and hopefully inspire another young girl in the future.

Kristina Heynes

Bsc. Chemical Engineering student

Age: 20

Favourite animal and why? Elephants – I love their social aspect and how protective they are of their herd. Particularly love how the old bulls guide the younger ones and teach them well.

Favourite TV show: Greg’s Anatomy

If you could be anything in the world, what would you be? A lion

Did you expect to find yourself where you are today? No I didn’t. I knew I wanted to do something associated with Maths and Science and something that enables me to help others but I didn’t realise that chemical engineering was an opportunity until matric.

Where do you hope to see yourself in 5-10 years in terms of your career? I hope to be an established professional engineer (Pr Eng) hopefully working my way up in a company and possibly overseas.

What it one major lesson you have learnt during your journey in STEM? Never underestimate the difficulty in and wealth of knowledge you can gain – you can always learn something new.

What advice would you give to young girls interested in STEM? Try and do as much research as you can, talk to women in STEM and if possible shadow them/get a taste into their everyday life. It will help you decide where you want to go.

Chelsea Van Coller

Bsc. Business Science majoring in Computer Science student

Age: 22

Favourite animal and why? Cockatoo, they are the most cuddly, funny birds

Favourite TV show: The Queen’s Gambit

If you could be anything in the world, what would you be? A Disney Princess

Did you expect to find yourself where you are today? Definitely not. Studying computer science was a very large stab in the dark. I figured I would go the commerce route, as I did not entirely know what I wanted to study. The end of orientation came and I just decided to go with computer science as it seemed the most interesting of all the options. Now, I am chair of the UCT Developer Society and going into my computer science honours year. If you had told me that a few years ago, I probably wouldn’t believe you. But it has been the most wonderful adventure and definitely worth it.

Where do you hope to see yourself in 5-10 years in terms of your career? I definitely am interested in going into the software field. I am planning on starting off as a software developer, but I am interested in transitioning into a Product Owner role or Project Management role as I really enjoy working with teams of people.

What it one major lesson you have learnt during your journey in STEM? It is perfectly okay to feel like an imposter! When it came to programming, I was very inexperienced. I felt as though I was surrounded by people who had been coding from the age of 5. A lot of my friends did IT in school and had already built successful apps. It made me doubt myself, whether I was competent enough, but the fact of the matter is, that you are at university to learn. It does not matter what everyone else knows, you will be there and it is normal to not know what you are doing, as long as you tackle the problem with determination.

What advice would you give to young girls interested in STEM? Don’t be afraid to try new things. Go sign up for the hackathon, the coding camp or the internship. There is so much opportunity in software development and the likelihood is your first hackathon may go horribly, but YOU WILL LEARN. Learning is the goal at the end of the day and it’s completely okay to fail. The first time applying for internships no one accepted me and I was very disappointed, but I continued to send out my CV and the next vacation I managed to score two internships. So go for it, be bold and go try for that terrifying experience.

Tiffany du Plessis

Bsc. Bioinformatics Honours student

Age: 21

Favourite animal and why? The beautiful and cunning fox.

Favourite TV show: Right now? Bridgerton.

If you could be anything in the world, what would you be? I used to say a genetic counsellor but after studying a bit further now my answer is just to be a geneticist in general.

Did you expect to find yourself where you are today? Not at all, I wanted to do honours in genetics and eventually a masters in genetic counselling. My plans have changed but sometimes it’s for the better.

Where do you hope to see yourself in 5-10 years in terms of your career? I would like to have a masters in either genetics or bioinformatics, and I’d like to be contributing to research in either field from an industry point of view. I hope not to stay an academic forever.

What it one major lesson you have learnt during your journey in STEM? A passion for your field of study is not only advantageous but it is necessary to be successful in any STEM degree and career.

What advice would you give to young girls interested in STEM? Don’t let STEM degrees intimidate you, if you have the passion and drive then you’ll find your way into your field of interest.

Shriya Naidoo

5th year Medical School student

Age: 22

Favourite animal and why? Probably a dog. I’ve grown up with dogs, never lived without one. All my dogs have added so much love and happiness to my life.

Favourite TV show: It’s a toss up between Greys Anatomy and The Mentalist.

If you could be anything in the world, what would you be? A doctor, of course!

Did you expect to find yourself where you are today? I think towards the end of high school, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in medicine. It seemed like the most direct way to help people around me.

Where do you hope to see yourself in 5-10 years in terms of your career? I hope to have spent time giving back to my country through my skills. I would also love to live and practice medicine in another country for a period of my life.

What it one major lesson you have learnt during your journey in STEM? I think having a balanced life is key to being happy and succeeding in your chosen degree. It’s not all about studying and achieving high marks, it’s about making friends, exploring new opportunities and making mistakes.

What advice would you give to young girls interested in STEM? I would tell them to back themselves and do whatever they want.

Mbali Mthembu

Bsc. Chemical Engineering student

Age: 21

Favourite animal and why? Panda bears, cute but potentially dangerous, like me.

If you could be anything in the world, what would you be? A fighter jet

Did you expect to find yourself where you are today? No, not at all. In fact ChemEng was never my first choice, maybe my 3rd. But my mom obviously knew something about me that I hadn’t realized in myself, 3 years down the line and I’m completely in love with what I’m doing.

Where do you hope to see yourself in 5-10 years in terms of your career? Either studying or innovating to say the least. Ever since I can remember, my mind has never been set on one “thing” in particular so I find it difficult to answer such questions adequately.

What it one major lesson you have learnt during your journey in STEM? I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I think. I feel like being in STEM has sparked a mindset shift in me, in that I know and full heartedly believe that I can do anything I put my mind to, regardless of my gender or the colour of my skin.

What advice would you give to young girls interested in STEM? Don’t you ever doubt yourself or your abilities. Your mind is brilliant and you have the potential to make a major impact on the lives of others.

Tamsyn Arendse

4th Year Medical School student

Age: 21

Favourite animal and why? I love all animals, but if I had to choose I’d say a turtle, although I’m not entirely sure why. I think it has something to do with the fact that they somewhat represent the environmental movement for me. I also love the ocean and turtles are just really beautiful and majestic creatures.

Favourite TV show: How I Met Your Mother

If you could be anything in the world, what would you be? A person whose has made a large positive impact on many lives and society in general. Whether that’s through advocating for positive environmental changes, through improved medical care, education, social work, etc. Any positive impact that can change lives for the better.

Did you expect to find yourself where you are today? Yes, I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was about 14-years-old, so I am where I expected myself to be and I’m happy that I’m still on this path. I guess medicine has not been what I expected from it when I committed to it, but it’s still where I’m meant to be and I wouldn’t have chosen a different path for myself.

Where do you hope to see yourself in 5-10 years in terms of your career? I hope to be working a steady job alongside studying towards my specialization (although I haven’t decided what that will be yet). 

What it one major lesson you have learnt during your journey in STEM? Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. And you need to take breaks from work to be more productive.

What advice would you give to young girls interested in STEM? Don’t let other people’s opinions affect you or change what you believe. You are smart and capable, don’t let other people make you believe any differently.

Nadiya Mahomed

Bsc. Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering student

Age: 21

Favourite animal and why? My favourite animal would be a dog because once you’ve gained their trust they’ll love you forever.

Favourite TV show: Breaking Bad

If you could be anything in the world, what would you be? I’d be an artist

Did you expect to find yourself where you are today? No. When I was in school I had no idea what engineering was about and what possibilities were out there for me until matric when I had to apply to universities and researched science based degrees. When reading about engineering it was exactly what I saw myself being good at because of my passion for art and science.

Where do you hope to see yourself in 5-10 years in terms of your career? I would’ve hopefully gotten experience working in the field of mechanical and/or mechatronics engineering and enrolled in a masters program either full time or part time.

What it one major lesson you have learnt during your journey in STEM? There’s no shame in asking for help.

What advice would you give to young girls interested in STEM? Always believe I’m your abilities – no one knows you better than you know yourself.

Candace Eslick

Bsc. Chemical Engineering student

Age: 21

Favourite animal and why? Cats – loving yet fierce.

Favourite TV show: Parks and Recreation

If you could be anything in the world, what would you be? A woman with vast positive impact.

Did you expect to find yourself where you are today? I did not expect to find myself as I am today, in this place and position in my life. I feel that every year, month and day I am evolving and becoming the woman I have always aspired to be. However, it does not matter where I am right now, it is the journey that I marvel at. I am constantly learning new aspects of this life – this helps me appreciate every second of it.

Where do you hope to see yourself in 5-10 years in terms of your career? I hope to travel and experience more this world has to offer while also starting out my career in water treatment in management. I hope to build experience in this field to manage and create easier access to water for South Africans. I would love to see myself climb up the chain of management in a water purification company and use my power to do fulfil my duty to those less fortunate than I.

What it one major lesson you have learnt during your journey in STEM? Always support and be kind to yourself. This positivity radiates to the world.

What advice would you give to young girls interested in STEM? “Back yourself!” In other words, confidence is key. You know yourself better than anyone else, so capitalize on your strengths! Also, hard work always pays off!


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