Meet Dr Josefina Hamutoko

30 April 2018 | Life Style

A local young woman has made history by being the first Namibian female to graduate with a PhD in geology from Unam.

Josefina Hamutoko, 27, is no stranger to awards and recently received the prestigious African Young Scientist of the Year award for her study of groundwater recharge in the parched aquifers of the Cuvelai-Etosha basin.

Hamutoko sat down with Namibian Sun to talk about her passions, aspirations and her jouney.

“For you to succeed, your attitude is equally as important as your ability,” said Hamutoko.

Born and raised in Okongo in Ohangwena Region, Hamutoko was destined for great things. With her mother a teacher, she recalls education being taken seriously in her household which made her eager to learn more and to be inquisitive from a young age.

After completing her secondary education at Oshigambo High School in 2006, she moved to Windhoek to begin her tertiary journey in geology at the Unam. Hamutoko continued her studies in Germany at Brandenburg Technical University Cottbus, where she obtained a Master's degree in Environmental and Resource Management.

“Can you imagine an Oshiwambo speaking girl from Okongo in Europe? The whole journey has been phenomenal.

“I chose geology because I get to alternate between nature when in the field and office; it brings some kind of balance into life,” she said.

Hamutoko draws her inspiration from people of all walks of life and urged the youth to always remember where they come from. She says it is important to take cognizance of poverty levels, the low education standards in her village and how she can be an inspiration to the youth in her vicinity.

Although wanting to work, in 2013 Hamutoko failed to secure a job. Then she was approached by her Master's degree supervisor who needed a PhD student for a project she herself was busy working on.

She consulted her support system and found herself starting her PhD which looked at water quality and quantity of aquifers that are tapped by hand-dug wells.

Hamutoko's journey was not easy but she says it was manageable. It involved a lot of funded travelling to countries as far as America, writing and field work.

“It was not a walk in the park but it was not also that bad. Imagine seeing all your peers have jobs, have cars, have houses, kids, married but you are still a student. I have been asked several times why I am not working and now, finally, it's done.

“I would like to thank everyone who has helped me through it all, even those that asked those ugly questions.

“I used them as a motivation,” she said.

Hamutoko advised young people not to feel discouraged by the global economic crisis which has resulted in many graduates being jobless, including herself. She says change of attitude, the choices one makes and using opportunities are the ingredients to fulfilment.

“Everyone should do their best in whatever they are doing. If you are a student, study hard, if you are working, work hard, if you are a taxi driver work hard so you own your taxis.

“We all don't need PhD, we can focus on different things; Namibia is still developing and we need more people from vocational centres to do construction of infrastructure. I am not the smartest person because I did my PhD; it's not about being smart it is about putting the opportunities you get to a good use. Believe in God and keep praying,” she said.

Hamutoko is looking forward to getting a job and industry experience before getting another qualification.

She may study management and leadership but she first wants to put in practise what she has learnt.

June Shimuoshili

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