On 18 November 2017, AIMSWIS South Africa held a mentoring event, which was a follow-up to the “Meet and Greet” event held on 9 October. The event was organized by Dr Rejoyce Gavhi-Molefe, Ms Mirette Fawzy, Ms Julia Borchardt, Ms Zoe Hamel, Ms Assumpta Nnakenyi, Ms Innocenter Amima and Ms Bathata Masego for the current AIMS South Africa women students, researchers, and alumni.

Thirty-nine women attended the event, 19 current women students, two researchers, three tutors and 15 alumni currently doing their Master’s and PhDs at local universities. The event which consisted of talks and a panel discussion was chaired by Ms Masego an AIMS Master’s student. Ms Savannah Nuwagaba who recently defended her PhD at Stellenbosch University was a guest speaker and she talked about” Understanding your discipline – STEM”. She noted, “Although Africa’s reality is that many are driven to specific research areas by opportunities, it is important that a strong motivation lies at the heart of any research field or problem one chooses to specialize in. Strong motivation sustains one during the challenging moments of a research career.

A highlight at the event was a panel discussion moderated by Ms Amima. The panel consisted of three AIMS alumni, Ms Eva Liliane Ujeneza, Ms Asmaa Tbaeen, and Ms Nuwagaba, as well as Ms Makinde Funmilayo Lydia (Research Master’s student), Ms Borchardt and Ms Hamel (tutors) who talked about choosing career paths, supervisors, life after AIMS, importance of giving back, opportunities for Master’s and PhD studies in South Africa, Europe and the USA and the importance of communication skills as a scientist.

During the event, Dr Gavhi-Molefe presented the objectives of the AIMSWIS program and launched the yearly one to one mentorship matching programme. The programme pairs an AIMS student with an AIMS alumnus or researcher for mentoring and support. The main objective is to expand the mentee’s network of mentors with other women in STEM. She also took the opportunity to present the new AIMSWIS South Africa website currently being developed by Dr Borchardt that will be launched soon.

The event was followed by a lunch at AIMS South Africa where participants had the opportunity to network.

Special thanks go to Stellenbosch University International Office for providing transport for participants from the university and Ms Assumpta Nnakenyi, who is the AIMSWIS liaison at Stellenbosch.