Growing up in the remote Outwilo village near Ondobe in the Ohangwena region, Teopolina Nghinaunye always had an outlook to change things for the better for herself and others.
Now 28 years old, Nghinaunye is continuing her goal to create conditions that will result in more young people pursuing scientific careers in Namibia. She believes the socio-economic challenges faced by Namibia will be eliminated through strengthening the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching and research facilities.
“I am determined to help young scientists get the necessary skills and education to create a better future for themselves. I want to connect with young people in Namibia, engage them in educational talks and help them connect with the right networks,” she told Youth Corner.
Nghinaunye obtained various qualifications such as Bachelor’s degree (Upper class) and Master’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Namibia, and gained a Master’s degree in environmental engineering from the Namibia University of Science and Technology.
The Ph.D. student in molecular cell biology at the Brandenburg University of Technology in Germany said she has great joy living her dream.
“Pursuing a doctoral degree is one step closer to becoming a role model for young talented scientists. My passion has always been to incite personal growth and development to people around me. I want to motivate and empower young people to study STEM courses,” she said.
Nghinaunye noted that life is full of many exciting experiences, “some of which we tend to forget, but as for others, we remember them for a long time”.
She credits Unam for teaching her how to be an innovative and thoughtful leader who is able to make a difference in society, and Brandenburg University of Technology too for preparing her well for the work environment.
During her Master’s studies, she worked with students, assisting with carrying out their laboratory sessions. She described this experience as unique and rewarding.
On her mentorship programme, Nghinaunye said at first, she wasn’t sure if she was cut out to be an educator, and secondly, the prospect of watching and educating first-year students was daunting.
“Despite this, my first day in the lecture hall went better than I had anticipated. It was during this time, I observed that most members weren’t intentional about their careers. From this experience, I furnished my mentorship and analytical skills. Not only did I equip myself with such skills, I also developed into a confident and powerful woman,” she explained.
Nghinaunye said she was inspired by two great writers, Joel Osteen and Charles Robert Darwin, and she believes “no matter how smart you are, true success requires many things, including hard work and perseverance”.
She stressed that the gap between the knowledge generated in the education system and the skills demanded by employers and individuals is widening.
“Therefore, as the world of work changes, we will need to change our skills to match.”
“Overcoming these limitations requires a priority focus on STEM courses, including the development of workplace skills in STEM. Future careers will also rely heavily on 21st century skills, for example, critical thinking, creativity, cultural awareness, collaboration and problem-solving. I love that what I do can make a difference for both our country and beyond,” she narrated.
Nghinaunye can be reached on her email email@example.com.