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By Selina Rapulane – 8 September 2021
When it comes to compassion, resilience, hard work, and focus, Dr Tozama Qwebani-Ogunleye: Senior Lecturer: Chemistry and a Project Manager at Traditional Medicine Unit at the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) is the best candidate to define these terms. She has been selected among other exceptional young leaders to participate in the 18th Annual Meeting of the Science and Technology in Society (STS) Forum which will take place online from 2-5 October 2021.
She is also invited to the Young Leaders Program special session, “dialogue between Young Leaders and Nobel Laureates”, to be held online on Thursday, 30 September.
The “Young Leaders Program” is a dialogue between Young Leaders and Nobel Laureates, where young leaders have fruitful and productive discussions with Nobel Laureates in a friendly atmosphere. Dr Tozama will be one of the representatives of South African Young leaders, the under 41. She is expected to contribute her own perspectives and perspectives of the younger generation, to the interactive dialogues of the forum.
The attendance to this event is strictly by invitation and her name was submitted by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). The program aims to invite outstanding young, promising leaders (under 41 years old) to attend the 18th STS Forum Annual Meeting. The young leaders will be able to build networks with the world’s top leaders and their peers and, in time, be part of the emerging movement to resolve the new types of problems stemming from the application of science and technology.
“I feel emotional, teary, excited, honoured and grateful. It is one of the best thing that has ever happened to me. I am grateful to my family, mentors, coaches, colleagues, the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS), ASSAf, DSI and all those who have come before us and left a trail for us to follow. This nomination and recognition also reflects the role that VUT is playing and can play on the world stage”, said Dr Tozama.
Dr Tozama believes that her active participation on science projects and research, that tends to bridge the gap between science and the community as well as her active participation in science and policy projects at the national and international level, are among other reasons for her selection in this global event.
“Collective leadership facilitates the discussion of diverse perspectives. In 2018 at the closing function of TechWomen Fellowship in Washington DC, Jillian Scott, Director of TechWomen at the Institute of International Education said, “When our experience transcends borders, it opens minds”. My take home from this event will include collaborations that transcend disciplines and borders and in so doing, enrich and complement each other in the context of science, technology, social upliftment and economic development of our country”, she stated.
Dr Tozama is a life-long learner. She is open to learning, unlearning and relearning. “I am grateful for both ups and downs in my life journey. I am who I am not ‘’in spite’’ of downs but ‘’because’’ of those challenging moments, a resilient spirit emerged. The reason I am highlighting this is to bring the value that challenges can bring”, she explained.
Apart from attending exceptional events and sharing her amazing work, she and her team at the Traditional Medicine entity, will be launching a number of products that are of herbal origin to different market channels this September 2021.
Also taking care of her personal growth, Dr Tozama has just launched her second book last month on the 30th of August titled: 100 Nuggets: Pearls of Wisdom. “This book was written during a globally torrid time, where uncertainty and confusion reigned, where death entered the homes of friends and family, church doors were closed and millions of people lost their jobs. I have been wanting to write an inspirational type of book that would serve as a tool of enlightenment, empowerment and encouragement. What better time to write such a book than when standing in the dark, powerless and discouraged? The book can be accessed on http://groep7-selfpublish-books.co.za/product/100-nuggets-pearls-of-wisdom-tozama-qwebani-ogunleye/.
Sharing her motivation to individuals who are feeling discouraged in these trying times that the world is facing, she said, “Life is a gift, a beautiful adventure and a privilege to be a part of. You can expect ups and downs in this adventure, so feeling exhilarated or discouraged is part for this course. My encouragement to you is that when things do go wrong, don’t go wrong with them. When the challenge seems insurmountable, keep putting one foot in front of another, and soon enough you will be on top”.