By | May 24, 2018

The University of Namibia unveils Namibia’s youngest Geology PhD graduate

“Dr Josefina Hamutoko is as old as independent Namibia – 28 years”

In the beginning there were 35 – the first cohort of locally trained medical doctors, that is. Then came the special feat, a series of students of San heritage graduating at the Main and Rundu campuses.Now, Dr Hamutoko has joined the growing list of extraordinary achievements at the University of Namibia (UNAM) graduation this year.

Indeed, it is by no means an ordinary accomplishment. Of course, her conferment bears greater significance, as Dr Hamutoko admits, considering the stereotypes and unjustified doubts surrounding women and their abilities in science fields. Equally, her age nearly defies her successes.

“For me, it is about taking opportunities as they come,” says Dr Hamutoko as she reveals that her current trajectory was not explicitly planned.

Although she discovered her interest in Geology at high school level, she had no doubts about her decision to make it a career path, when she came across a UNAM Faculty of Science pamphlet. Her first year at the University of Namibia memorably coincided with first President of independent Namibia, Dr Sam Nujoma’s final year in the Faculty.

“It just became interesting,” she says in reference to the connection between her choice of study and the Founding Father.

Dr Hamutoko’s dissertation topic – Groundwater recharge of perched aquifers in the Cuvelai-Etosha Basin, Namibia – reflects her desire to see all Namibians have access to safe drinking water. The study was carried out at UNAM’s Geology Department.

“Of course my supervisors were very influential on the successful completion of this research,” she says of Dr Heike Wanke and Professor Benjamin Mapani, both of the University’s Geology Department. “They supported me and were very patient at times,” she adds.

While academia remains her monopoly as compared to industrial geology, next on her immediate target list – after successful attainment of every other goal – is a steady job. Dr Hamutoko says just as she sifts through the dailies for potential job openings, she has also left the door open for her innovative ideas to create a possible route to employment.

Based on her tradition of hauling in prestigious awards and recognitions, including the ‘Young Scientist of the Year’ accolade, presentations at international conferences, numerous scholarships and grants to study abroad, and now the icing on the cake, the doctorate itself, it’s safe to feel optimistic for the UNAM alumna’s chances in the corporate world.

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