Hi ASA fam
I hope you are all doing well in your respective corners of the world, happy International Women’s Day to all our female readers. I decided to start a new series called #ASAHallofFame to introduce people who have/continue to inspire me throughout their journey either as students and/or professionals. I know that as a student abroad you will face MANY challenges, hopefully these stories help you realise that whatever you are going through is temporary because other people have faced similar challenges and overcame them. Today is about a very close friend of mine, and I could not think of anyone else on this #InternationalWomensDay: Christy Shakuyungwa-her story is nothing short of inspirational.
I honestly cannot remember how I met Christy, it may have been through a group assignment of Technical Drawing in first year…we have remained friends for over a decade through laughing at the failed tests, many MANY very long sleepless nights before an exam, boy’s stories, running a few races and wine-filled evenings. When I started ASA, I knew that I wanted to share her story as someone I completely admire for beating the odds, and thankfully she agreed to it.
Christy first started her studies in Namibia at the University of Namibia (UNAM), where she started a degree in in Marine Biology. Halfway through it, she realised that she really did not enjoy it and convinced her family to allow her to study Chemical Engineering in South Africa. She applied at the University of Cape Town (UCT), got accepted and thankfully secured a scholarship from a mining company. Unfortunately, despite spending 80-90% of her time studying, she did not achieve the minimum required grades and faced academic exclusion from UCT. She then decided to register through the University of South Africa (UNISA) to complete Maths and Physics which would then allow her to come back to UCT-this was an option allowed by UCT at the time. With very difficult finances (and unable to have her own accommodation), she managed to do just that and came back to UCT for the 2nd year. During that time, she was also dealing with an emotionally abusive and manipulative partner (and only revealed this much later before they broke up). As a result she was diagnosed with depression, and was on medication for a period of time… Unfortunately, she was excluded again from UCT in her 3rd year due to low academic grades and lost her scholarship. In between, she went home and told her family what she had been going through. She then came back and registered with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology to finish her Chemical Engineering degree as Technologist. She lived on a shoestring budget but that never stopped her from smiling, she has always been one of the most resourceful people I know. Things seemed to be getting better for her: she was studying again and only had 2 years left, she also got out of the abusive relationship painful and went on to meet a wonderful man. He was such a wonderful angel who was unfortunately diagnosed with leukemia and passed away a few months after. After much pain and still battling depression, she graduated from CPUT and went back to Namibia to find work. With a limited job market and tough economy, she secured a job only 1 year later which was tough emotionally as there were moments when the depression seemed to win over. She always wanted to be an entrepreneur and decided to resign and pursue her entrepreneurial dream full time after a year or two into her job. She started a doll company (Taati & friends) as well as a linen company (Lipitua Linen). Due to a slow start and limited income being generated, she decided to go back to full time employment while pursuing her dream of becoming an entrepreneur as side hustle.
Fast forward a few years, she is now a full time chemical engineer and owns not one but two businesses in her beautiful country Namibia. My biggest lesson from Christy’s journey is that of perseverance and self belief. She had so many reasons to be discouraged, and give up but she never quite did. We always joke with her and say that things can only get better for her as she has gone through drama of a lifetime in a short and intense period of time in her 20s. By the looks of things, it is indeed true. Her dolls business is picking up and she won the first US embassy in Namibia’s bootcamp for social entrepreneurship and represented her country at the African Women Entrepreneurship Programme (AWEP). She was also selected as part of the first lady of Namibia group of women for a study tour. Oh as if it was not enough, she continues to push the linen business while on a full time job.
I hope this inspires you. Whatever you might be going through, get yourself a good support system and believe in yourself. Why? Well, there is really only one of you in this planet: if this is not motivation, not sure what else it could be. I hope you enjoyed this post.