Qualification details: MSc Zoology (Aquatic Ecology & Entomology)
BSc Honors Zoology (Terrestrial Ecology)
PGCE SF/FET (Natural Sciences & Life Sciences)
BSc Biological Sciences (Zoology, Botany, Nature Conservation)
Birthplace: Mooiplaas, Mpumalanga
Current Location: Modimolle, Limpopo
What are you currently doing? Senior Education Officer, WESSA Bush Pigs, Limpopo
Quote that motivates your work: “If you believe it will work out, you’ll see opportunities. If you believe it won’t, you will see obstacles” -Wayne Dyer-
- When you were younger, what did you think you’d become?
Surprisingly, I wanted to be a scientist. I was always fascinated by people wearing lab coats, and mixing chemicals. Overtime, my passion for science grew intensely towards investigating environmental problems and communicating my findings through education. I am currently doing exactly that, and am working towards doing even more for the environment.
- Tell us about your career path. What steps did you take to get where you are?
It started with choosing the right subjects or learning areas at high school. I went the physics and biology route. Eventually, all roads led to a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences, followed by an Honors in Zoology, and a Masters in Zoology that was coupled with a Post graduate certificate in Education. I worked as hard as I could throughout my studies, although it wasn’t easy, it paid off very well, resulting in excellent achieves at all stages during the development of my career. I am currently working as a senior education officer where I develop environmental education programs for school camps. Among other duties, I also supervise educators and conduct career development sessions with them.
- What influenced your career choice?
My family was very influential, although they thought I would be more into the health care profession, they supported my personal choice of career.
- Did you know about this career when you were younger?
Not exactly, but I had a vivid idea of myself working as a conservationist. I was raised closest to a nature reserve with wildlife and game rangers who took schools out for game drives and bushveld interpretive walks. That is how I got inspired to research and educate about the natural environment.
- Describe a typical work day?
My days are not always the same. When there is a school group, duty calls at 6am and it runs until 9pm. During this time, my schedule shift between handling matters in the hospitality unit for the mornings, and later focus on the education unit for the rest of the day. In the absence of school groups, I start my day at 7:30am and knock off at 4:30pm, doing office work, research, and developing educational teaching material.
- What makes your work exciting?
Having to share the knowledge I have with the society, with the objective to influence the change in behavior. I also learn a lot from learners and teachers each time they visit. I have the privilege to interact with ± 250 learners and ± 15 teachers every month, of course swimming in a vast pool of knowledge sharing.
- What makes your work challenging?
Exercising critical thinking every day and acting spontaneous, while working long hours. When you host a group of 120 learners you are practically parenting, and have to consider each child’s needs the way their own parents would. You do that every day for 5 days and 4 nights in a week, should anything happen, you become the only possible hope for the teachers and learners. Furthermore, it is my responsibility to ensure that the standard and quality of education we provide remains excellent, relevant, and current.
- If you had to pinpoint a defining moment in your career, what would that be?
Walking down the podium in a hall full of academics, hearing my name being called in the graduation hall, with the program director requesting for the Vice Chancellor of Rhodes University to confer a Master of Science degree in Zoology with distinction. I couldn’t see anything stopping me from reaching higher heights.
- When did you know for sure this career is for you?
During undergrad. I fell in love with zoology at second year, and I knew I was going to come back for more after finishing my first degree.
- What do you wish you knew, before you started on this career path?
I wish somebody had told me that climbing this particular ladder will require sleepless nights and absolute accuracy in reporting scientific findings. Furthermore, I wish I had known that devoting my time to research meant having little time with family.
- How does your current role fit into your career goals?
I am practically doing what I am trained for. Nothing is as fulfilling as delivering what you have spent time perfecting. Although I haven’t arrived at my destination, I am blessed to live everyday doing what is good for the environment.
- What are your next steps? What do you still need to do to achieve your ideal work situation?
For now I will keep growing and acquiring experience that will inform my future studies. Before furthering my studies, I want to identify knowledge gaps between the delivery of the curriculum indoors versus general outdoor environmental learning.
- What advice would you give to a young person?
Never underestimate your capabilities. Allow yourself to start small and never be your own destruction. Passion is what drives performance. It is when you perform extraordinary that complex doors will open for you, and you will be walking tall knowing you have earned what you deserve.
- Would you be willing to share your feature on all your social media platforms? If yes, which handles can we use to tag you?
You can tag me on Facebook @Gininda Simphiwe