1999 • Engineering Sciences Award

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The Eastern Cape provided the home and security of Sibongile’s early years, however, her family was forced to relocate to Lesotho in 1982 due to political pressure. 

Her earliest influence when growing up was her mother who single handedly raised three girls and, while in exile, made great sacrifices to ensure her children felt at home in their new country.  Her lasting legacy to her children was that they should be self-reliant and humble – traits that have stood Sibongile in good stead throughout her life. 

Sibongile’s completed her high school education in Lesotho and was so academically successful that she was awarded a sponsorship to study at Pearson College in British Columbia.  She completed a two year international baccalaureate program at the college which led her to study a B.Sc in Biochemistry at the University of British Columbia. 

In order to finance her studies at UBC, Sibongile worked for the Pharmaceutical Sciences department of the university as a research assistant and also worked with the elderly in the community as a homemaker. 
Once she had finished her studies at UBC she joined the Federal Research Program in Ottawa. 

Sibongile realized that her lack of French would impede her work there so she embarked on a period of study that included French, Computer Programming and Graphic Design – the latter two courses being chosen with a view to studying engineering at a later date. She had already decided that her chosen profession in biochemistry had a limited future and registered for and completed a civil engineering (with computer programming) degree at Ryerson Polytechnic University. 

Although studying and work leaves her with few spare hours, Sibongile always finds time to mentor others and share her experiences and advice with young people – this is her way of contributing to people in recognition of the support she herself was given.  Active academically and socially, it is not surprising that Sibongile’s hobbies include such strenuous activities as swimming and rollerblading. 

The result of her hard work, determination and dedication to her studies in such varied fields, led to her being appointed by Andersen Consulting as soon as she had qualified. She now works with them as an analyst in information technology.   

Sibongile finds time in her busy working life to help those less fortunate than herself.  She volunteers for community organizations such as the Southern African Community Association which aims to share and rekindle interest in the culture of South Africans living in Canada.

When based in Texas, she had the opportunity to sit on the Board of Kuumba House – an organization involved in enlightening Americans about African culture, through theatre.

She has also been involved with the Junior Achievement project that puts consultants into classrooms around North America with the aim of conveying the importance of education to the youngsters. 

Her own hard work and diligence, combined with her mother’s emphasis on self reliance and humility, have helped her to attain her goals. 

On her chosen career, Sibongile hopes to be a role model for women in Africa who still see engineering as a predominantly male field and often don’t consider applying to study in this field.