After the death of her 7-year-old daughter, Senamile Masango decided to move to Cape Town and go back to school.
She recently graduated cum laude, with her MSc in Nuclear Physics from UWC.
Masango, 32, received an acknowledgement from former president Jacob Zuma for being the first African woman to conduct an African-led experiment at Cern, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research.
The journey was not easy for her, but Masango said she was proud of herself and wanted to inspire others.
“It started in 2016 after losing my daughter (Sindisiwe) in a car accident. Then I decided to go back to school and pursue my studies. I am from rural kwaNongoma and many didn’t think I would make it.”
“I had to learn to focus and I had to switch from mourning to my studies. UWC assisted me with therapy and my course co-ordinator was very patient, helpful and understanding,” she said.
“It has changed my life and young people see me as a role model. Especially in a male-dominated field, you are under a lot of scrutiny and you have to prove yourself and then there’s the issue of colour. You have to work 120% harder than anyone else, but I decided to focus. It was not an easy journey. It was because of my supervisor that I made it, he pushed me.”
Masango plans to help youngsters, especially those from rural areas, through the Senamile Masango Foundation, to be exposed to the practical side of science.
“My foundation raises funds to donate, and one of my dreams is to build laboratories in rural areas so they can be exposed to the practical side, and to empower them so they can see their full potential. I had no mentor and I want them to relate with me.”