Fezile Bangetile Khumalo

Mathematical Modeling MSc. student at University of Eswatini and Mathematics high school teacher at Evelyn Baring High School

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Do not be afraid to smash the stereotypes.

What do you do?

As a student, my program of study enables me to critically think and logically reason, as I get to collaborate and work with other learners and lecturers in understanding, and finding solutions to Mathematical problems. I get to understand real-life problems in terms of Mathematical models, and then become a part of finding the solution. Programming and coding form a major part of what I do.
At work, I describe myself as a-top-of-the-range teacher, who does not only teach content and pass knowledge, but also inspire and raise the zone of proximal development among learners to nurture a desire for discovery and problem solving.

Why did you choose this field?

Mathematics is something I’ve loved my entire life. Having enrolled in a girls’ school for my high school learning, I realised that the stereotypes could be smashed. That girl’s, too, are equally capable. That sort of stimulated my interests in pursuing Mathematics as a career.
And also, hearing the monotonous cliché of ‘the aren’t much jobs in Mathematics’ or ‘What are you going to do with your Maths, anyway’ was one greatest motivation for me, towards pursuing a career in Mathematical Modeling. It’s the idea of being a part of a solution to a novel problem in society, the critical thinking involved in the process and the insight you get collaborating with other Mathematicians that makes me want to endeavour and expand my Maths territory to this field in the near future.
Currently, as a teacher, I enjoy imparting the knowledge I’ve gained and honed through all my years of study to my learners and also being an inspiration to the young to dare this exciting field of study.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I obtained my Bachelor’s degree, in Science in 2017. My majors were Mathematics and Chemistry, though my favorite was the Maths. Holding that degree in my hand reminded me of high school, when I attended Maths National contests. I used to be paralyzed with inferiority complex, coming from a girl’s school and having to compete with boys, from schools known to be Champs of Champs. That degree made me wish I had known it was possible, back in those days of fear and doubt.

Why do you love working in STEM?

Being a Mathematics person, all day and every day, is very exciting for me. It involves hands-on and minds-on experiences which makes it more interesting and fun. The most fascinating part also is the exposure to use of cutting-edge technology and software, which leads to new ideas and innovation. Waking up and knowing that as a woman, I am also a part of such resilience and ingenuity, through my work and studies is rewarding for me.

Best advice for next generation?

Do not be afraid to smash the stereotypes. Do not be afraid to dare. The challenge is the most interesting part of it all. Because it reminds you, constantly, that you are a part of the solution; the bigger picture. Whatever STEM field you may want to pursue, be fully aware that, that enables you to be a part of solutions to society’s many Scientific problems. The satisfaction comes from knowing that you are making a difference in the world.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

There are no limits to what women can do.

NOMINATE a woman in STEM

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