For Godfrey Maseko, the best part of studying chemical engineering is the way of thinking it fosters. As someone who embraces the chance to overcome challenges, it’s clear he’s chosen the right career path.
Now in his fourth year of chemical engineering at Wits, Godfrey was raised in the North West province in the village of Moeka. “I grew up in an area where water scarcity is a very big problem,” he says, “so I made it my mission to find sustainable solutions to this. I want to work in the water purification industry.”
While he always wanted to study engineering, Godfrey initially didn’t know which specialty to pursue. “I went to Wits to study engineering – not to become an engineer but to learn how to think like an engineer,” he says. As a good student who loves a challenge, Godfrey chose chemical engineering as it had the highest APS (admission point score). “The more I learned about the course, the more excited I became,” he says. “I made a very good choice; I really fell in love with chemical engineering.”
The oldest of four children, Godfrey was raised by his mother. “I come from a very happy home where we are all governed by our faith,” he says. “Sometimes when things just didn’t come along and I wanted to give up, I’d just kneel down and pray and hope for the best. Things came right then.”
While he did face difficulties, Godfrey feels that obstacles present opportunities. “I believe that without challenges, people don’t grow. Every time I overcome a challenge; I learn something new about myself.” Godfrey says being the first one in his family to come to university is the biggest challenge he’s faced. “When I came here, I had no-one to tell me about how university life works, how to behave, and how to do this and that, so I had to rely on myself a lot.”
Being awarded the Moshal Scholarship in his second year changed all of that. “Ever since I joined Moshal, I’ve had a smooth ride. Things were just made easy for me. Other than getting financial support, our coordinator Shanaaz connects with us on a personal level which is nice. I wouldn’t trade the scholarship for anything.”
Embodying the Moshal values
Godfrey is committed to living by the Moshal values. “Those values are what make us Moshal scholars,” he says. “Every day I make sure that I embody and project those values. For example, I’d never plagiarise, and I make sure that when I interact with people, I show empathy.”
Paying it forward is important to Godfrey. He’s part of the Moshal buddy programme and of the big brother mentorship programme at his res. “As a big brother, you adopt a first year and help them with anything they need, whether it be academically or personally. Because I’ve been there, I know how to get around most of these things.”
In terms of giving back to his community, Godfrey tutors at his former high school whenever he travels back home. He’s also committed to setting a good example to his siblings. “I always push them to work hard. I often share my varsity experiences as I want my siblings to envy me so they’ll all want to come to university to experience this nice life.”
Ultimately, it’s through his career that Godfrey hopes to have an impact on communities around the country. “There are many villages in South Africa that don’t have running water,” he says. “I want to make sure that I’m part of the team that provides running water to these communities. That’s how I’ll give back to the community.”
Networking his way to success
Godfrey says that while he’s learnt countless life lessons at Wits, the most important is around networking. “Most people just come here, get their degrees and leave,” he says. “That’s dangerous. You must meet and get to know new people. Wits holds a lot of events, so it’s important to just go and network because you never know who you may meet. I’ve made a lot of contacts.”
In the spirit of networking, Godfrey’s also taken advantage of Moshal’s partnership with the National Mentorship Movement. “We’re allocated mentors and my mentor Martin has over 30 years of experience in the engineering industry. We have a very good relationship and we understand each other. He’s given me a lot of advice about life and about schoolwork. He really wants me to balance the two. I like the way he thinks.”
Godfrey says his role model is his mother. “My mom is a hard worker and it takes a lot of courage to raise four kids alone – that’s what I admire about her.” Godfrey’s also inspired by a quote from Steve Jobs: “Those that are crazy enough to think that they can change the world usually do.” Armed with a desire to seek new challenges, Godfrey may just be the right amount of crazy.