Sinothando Tiso, a chemical engineer, is one of many young women whose horizons have broadened thanks to Engen’s Maths and Science Extra lessons.
Cape Town, South Africa – Sinothando Tiso grew up in Motherwell in the Eastern Cape, where she completed her schooling and is the first person in her family to attend university. This is a great achievement and the culmination of the enormous effort and sacrifices of her parents and grandmother who consistently encouraged her and always provided for her, despite often challenging circumstances.
“I was raised by my late grandmother who took care of me,” explains Sinothando. “My parents worked day and night trying and make ends meet. I am truly grateful because no matter how tough things got at times, I don’t recall ever going to bed on an empty stomach. Also, the values that my grandmother instilled in me, from a young age, are what influenced the good choices I have made in my life, the things that I’ve achieved and the responsible young woman that I’ve become.”
Today Sinothando is a proud Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering graduate of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. And thanks to her place in Engen’s Graduate Development Programme she is employed in Engen’s Lubricants Technical Department in Cape Town.
Sinothando attributes her love of science to the Engen Maths and Science Schools (EMSS) that she attended while in high school.
She first heard about the EMSS programme from her physical science teacher. She joined the EMSS Grade 10 group, where she attended the supplementary classes held at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, every Saturday until she matriculated.
“One of the greatest experiences I got from attending EMSS was working in a real science laboratory for the first time. The high school that I attended did not have lab facilities. This had a great influence on my career choice and played a vital role in preparing me for university.”
Leaving the comfort of her home to go and study at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, with no back-up, family or friends was very difficult for her.
“But I am rather proud to have made it through, because it brought about an immense amount of growth. When you step out of your comfort zone, you learn more about yourself and get to unleash your full potential.”
While Sinothando has reached her dream of becoming an engineer, she has expanded her vision to now provide for her family. She hopes to build her parents their dream home one day.
“One of my biggest life goals is to build my parents their dream house. Their consistent support through my university years are what made it possible for me to make it this far. That made me promise myself that I will measure my success by the size of the smile on their faces.”
To mark Women’s Month, Sinothando is sharing her story in the hopes it will inspire other young girls to work hard to follow their dreams. She has a powerful message for every future female engineer.
“Find your WHY, and your HOW will fall into place.”
“What I am trying to say to all young South African women is that it does not matter where you come from. Or what resources you have. If you strongly believe in your dreams and are willing to work hard enough to see them come to life, then it is possible to achieve them with the little that you have. So, for as long as you know your WHY, you will never lose your path. As one of my high school teachers used say, where there is a will, there is always a way”.
She believes that life is there for the taking and that determination and grit plays a big role.
“Attitude is everything,” says Sinothando. “The way you see life and the results of your actions all depend on your attitude.”