Meet the Scholar, Mamokgethi Phakeng, Professor of Mathematics Education at Wits University, South Africa, and Vice Principal of Research & Innovation at UNISA. On July 1st 2016, she will assume the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research and Internationalisation position at UCT. Her full biography here.
“I have never made an effort to maintain my sense of style, all I do is be true to me, to who I am; that is very important to me. So if what I am is stylish then it is a coincidence. I work really hard and have done so through out my career – that is what occupies me the most. This is the reason why I obtained a C1 rating as a scientist within three years of getting my PhD and a B2 rating within ten years. My view is that it is this level of achievement (considerable international recognition as a scholar) that makes me more than just what I wear.
When fellow scholars meet me they don’t only see style, they also see a B2 NRF rated scholar whose achievements are celebrated all over the world. I pursue excellence and that is important to me – it is an important part of who I am and this excellence goes beyond how I look like.
To my academic colleagues who want to explore beauty and experiment with personal style, I say this, it is better to be an original. Be yourself and be true to that! Work on your career as much as you work on yourself. Make sure that there is a balance. Style and beauty come from within, from who you are and not necessarily what you wear and how much it costs.
A woman who is content with who she is can pull off anything because she is comfortable in who she is. She is not trying to be something that she is not. I wear anything I like, I do not care whether it is in fashion or not – my view is that even if it is from the street I can make it look beautiful. It is who I am that makes me stylish, not what I am wearing. So even if someone can get the same outfit I am wearing, I am sure that it will not look the same because it is my personality that helps me pull off a look. If you don’t have my personality, you cannot pull off a look exactly the way I do. Style is individual.”
Professor Phakeng is an internationally acclaimed scholar with a publication count of over 80 research papers and four edited volumes. In August 2014 CEO magazine named her the most influential woman in Academia in Africa. You can follow her on Twitter @fabacademic & Instagram. For more on her style, visit our Pinterest page – Stylish Scholars.
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