I Just Wanted to Study! – Aune Tuyoleni Angobe

 

I got to know Aune through LinkedIn after part of her STEM journey was shared by mutual connections. I reached out to get the full version and I believe it will be inspiring to someone out there, the way it was to me.

Hi Aune, thank you for accepting to be our guest today. Thank you for not giving up on yourself along your STEM journey
Hi Winnie, thank you for reaching out. I truly appreciate and are glad that I never gave up. It was very much worth it.

Kindly give us a brief introduction about who you are
My name is Aune Tuyoleni Angobe from Namibia. I am currently looking for PhD funding opportunities to enhance my skills and further my studies in the field of Microbiology. I currently work as a Medical Laboratory Scientist at University of Namibia (UNAM) Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory on contract basis.

Briefly walk us through your STEM journey from childhood to where you are now
I was born in a village called Ongongo in Elim constituency, Omusati region and I was raised by my late grandparents (May their souls continue resting peacefully). A privilege that I have and will always have is that my grandparents had always known the value of education. I attended both primary and secondary school in the Northern part of Namibia under their tender care. Throughout my schooling journey, I have always enjoyed science subjects and I had no doubt that I was a Scientist from birth. Despite my poor family background, I studied hard and matriculated with good grades. In 2013, I was granted admission at the University of Namibia for an Honours degree program in Science (Microbiology) which was funded by the government loan. After completing my undergraduate studies in 2017, I was employed in a semi-skilled low paying job and had started feeling comfortable, with no intention to further my studies at all. However, things changed mid-2018. I started developing a strong feeling about furthering my studies and looked up for opportunities at several universities both in South Africa and Namibia. Excitingly, I got admission news from A/Professor Inga Hitzeroth as a potential project supervisor for my MSc in Molecular and Cell Biology and eventually got admitted by the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa.

What challenges have you faced along this journey?
One of my biggest challenges was of course funding! I remember clearly that when I arrived in Cape Town for my studies, I did not have funds to cater for my accommodation and living expenses (I only had R 500.00). Upon arrival, I was illegally (against the University policy) accommodated by a friend who resided in the university’s residence where I stayed for about two weeks. During this period my supervisor, friend and I were constantly worried about how I was going to survive. I remember discussing with my friend on the way forward regarding to where I would be staying. We then decided to approach the university’s student housing for possible accommodation. I went there and cried my lungs out to them. I clearly remember the officer asking me how I left Namibia without knowing where I was going to stay, and my response was: “I don’t know but I just want to study.” I was eventually granted accommodation. Soon after that, my supervisor introduced me to Aunt Vivien, the owner of Sam Cohen Scholarship Trust. Who then went out of her way to make sure that my stay in Cape Town was fully funded and I eventually comfortably settled in.

In addition to funding, being in a foreign country was never an easy transition. I always felt like an outsider and struggled with overcoming the language barrier. Being far from my support system especially my family and friends, I really felt the gap.

What was your biggest source of inspiration during these trying times?
I was inspired by the fact that getting an opportunity to study at one of the most prestigious universities comes once in a lifetime. I made sure to grab the opportunity and work hard in achieving the goal of doing my MSc program with UCT.

Tell us about your achievements and awards
I was awarded as the overall best student at my primary school. And in 2010, I was in the top ten best students having scored good points in Oshindonga as a First language. Also in my third year at university I was awarded a certificate of best student in Research methodology module.

Who in Aune outside work?
Most of the time I participate in activities within my community which are aimed at providing the needy/homeless with basic necessities.

What’s your favourite quote?
Surround yourself with people who believe in your dreams, encourage your ideas, support your ambitions, and bring out the best in you” ~ Roy T. Bennett

What are your words of encouragement for a young girl in STEM?
To the young girl in STEM, always keep in mind that your dreams are valid. You have everything that it takes, and that’s yourself. Believe in yourself always and keep pushing no matter the circumstances.

Thank you for sharing your story with the world, Aune! Once again, thank you for not giving up on yourself, it paid off and it’s hope for another person out there. Our backgrounds don’t define us!

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