MTECH CHEMISTRY GRADUATE: “SLOW PROGRESS IS STILL PROGRESS…,” Mpho Qhubo
By Qhawekazi Memani 14 December 2021
“This year has been really confusing to me, but it has definitely been filled with achievements. I told my friend this one time that I am evolving in a middle of a financial dilemma in my life, and even though there are achievements along the way, there is hard work attached to it.” Mpho Qhubu. She grew up in the Free State, Kroonstad.
This year Mpho started her own manufacturing company. She manufactures liquid hand sanitizers, home fragrance diffusers and car fresheners. She has also recently started manufacturing pine gel, liquid hand wash and foam disinfecting bleach. She also participated in the Entrepreneurship Development Higher Education (EDHE) intervarsity competitions for 2021 and made it to the finals.
“It has been an amazing journey. I have learnt a lot and have met amazing people who gave me support and opened doors to opportunities. I have also published 3 articles 2 where I have worked with my BTech students and one where it’s my masters work,” said Mpho
As much as the year has been a bit challenging for Mpho she fetched her master’s degree in Chemistry on 22 November 2021 under the dissertation title: ‘the adsorption of Cr(VI) by iron oxide functionalised polyethyleneimine (PEI) coated activated carbon-silica composites’.
Her journey at VUT started in 2013 when she enrolled for the national diploma in Analytical Chemistry. Describing her journey: “things were still smooth back then. Fresh from high school and full of dreams. I joined VUT choir in 2012 before registering at VUT since I have been in choral music. That’s when I decided to join VUT officially in 2013 as a student,” said Mpho.
The aim of her study is to explore the feasibility of modified activated carbon as an adsorbent for the removal of Cr(VI) (a heavy metal) from aqueous systems. Modification includes iron oxide nanoparticles which will help with removal of the activated carbon from solutions after adsorption using magnetic separation to prevent it from becoming a secondary pollutant. The PEI therefore serves as an advantage to chemical uptake of Cr(VI) through electrostatic interactions since PEI is rich in amine groups.
Her work was supervised by Prof V.E Pakade (VUT) and Prof P.N Nomngongo (UJ). With this research Mpho strives to improve on removal of heavy metals from water systems in cost effective manner for clean water purposes and reduction of water pollution by heavy metals.
Very excited to bag another qualification Mpho says: “I am more relieved and feel at peace. It is officially done. It’s been a long stressful journey but this feeling of collecting the reward is surely overwhelming.”
With no family of her own yet, Mpho’s family is very happy and cannot thank God enough for how far she has come.
Her advice to people / students who aspire to be like her one day: “Your dreams are valid. Nothing comes easy in life. When it gets tough, know that that is when your strength is being build. You may not see the progress and the peak now but know that slow progress is still progress. Each step you take will get you there. It’s okay to feel tired and want to give up sometimes, don’t be hard on yourself. Take a break when it’s necessary but never ever give up.”
Mpho plans to pursue her PhD next year, “To seal of what I have started and to add a title to my name that can never be replaced, Dr.”
Mpho’s studies were funded by the National Research Foundation.
Mpho Qhubu has penned and published the following dissertations:
Qhubu, M.C., Mgidlana, L.G., Pakade, V.E. 2018. Preparation, characterisation and application of activated clay biochar composite for removal of CR(VI) in water: Isotherms, Kinetics and thermodynamics. Materials Chemistry and Physics. 260 (2021) 1-13
Qhubu, M.C., Nomngongo, P.N., Pakade V.E. 2021: Exploring the Iron Oxide Functionalized Biobased Carbon-silica- polyethyleneimine Composites for Hexavalent Chromium Removal from Dilute Aqueous Solutions. Molecular Diversity Preservation International.13(3081).