Meet Brilliant Zimbabwean Lady Who Became Africa’s Youngest Ph.D. Holder At 23, A Professor at 33


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Musawenkosi Donia Saurombe, a Zimbabwean, made history in 2017 when she became the youngest person on the African continent to earn a PhD at 23 years old.

Recently, she broke the glass ceiling again when she became an associate professor at the University of Johannesburg.

Musawenkosi, raised in Botswana, started taking her Bachelor of Commerce degree from North-West University at the age of 16. She graduated with distinction at 19.

She went on to receive her honour’s and master’s degrees from NWU at the ages of 20 and 21, respectively. Musawenkosi was just 23 years old in 2017 when she obtained her Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial and Organisational Psychology from NWU.

Since then, she has started working in the academic field. She worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the North-West University in 2017 before becoming a senior lecturer at the University of the Free State of Bloemfontein in 2019.

In 2021, Musawenkosi Donia Saurombe started working at the University of Johannesburg as a senior lecturer. Most recently, the university has promoted Musawenkosi, who is now 29 years old, to associate professor.

In a LinkedIn post, her friend Tutu Kgobane celebrated her achievement and wrote, “Congratulations, my sister. The youngest PhD graduate in Africa has now been appointed as a professor. Prof Musa! So proud of her.”

REPORTERS AT LARGE earlier reported that Ruth Ama Gyan-Darkwa made headlines in 2017. She was adjudged the youngest ever to gain admission into the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana, to study mathematics at the age of 13 in 2017

And in December 2021, she graduated after studying mathematics at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

Two years after her first degree, the female prodigy has chalked up another feat. She became the youngest Master/PhD graduate student at the University of New Mexico at the age of 18. –

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