“Education is the first step for people to gain the knowledge, critical thinking, empowerment and skills they need to make the world a better place,” says University of Pretoria (UP) alumna Dintle Nkosi, who is helping young people to make smart career choices through her NGO Thuto Thusa.
“I am passionate about education and a firm believer in the saying ‘knowledge is power,’” she says. “I was surprised by the inequalities of access to information around career guidance and higher education, so I decided to change things.”
Nkosi, who obtained a BCom in Internal Auditing in 2011 from UP, lives in the UK with her family and works for multinational PepsiCo as an ecommerce finance analyst for the UK and Ireland region. She also co-founded Thuto Thusa, the mission of which is to make information more accessible, whether it is about getting into the right university or onto the appropriate career path.
“Access to information and resources goes a long way in closing the inequality gap,” Nkosi says. Thuto Thusa, which translates to “education helps”, improves the level of information that learners have on life after secondary school; steers them towards careers that are in line with their skills and that address skills shortages; and provides high school learners from underprivileged communities and schools with virtual mentoring and career guidance.
She particularly enjoys the mentorship aspect of the NGO. “It is so fulfilling to see some of the students that we work with go on to achieve great things,” Nkosi says.
Encouraging and supporting young people is something that is close to Nkosi’s heart. “When I was in my late teens, I was fortunate to have access to information about universities, bursaries and different careers,” she explains. “These services were free at the high school I attended; we even had free psychometric evaluations to help you find careers that would be most suited to you. This was not always the case for the young people I grew up with in my township. Some had better marks than me, but no information or access to opportunities. I wanted to change that. Young people have the potential to achieve great things and advance their communities – they just need access to information.”
One of the initiatives that the NGO features is Career Day. “This is an online career guidance platform where we share the career journeys of various professionals,” Nkosi says. “They share information about where they come from, the subjects they chose in high school, where they furthered their studies, what their career prospects and starting salaries were, and they describe a typical day at work.”
Thuto Thusa also releases free videos every month on YouTube. “Our videos are animated to be engaging and easy to understand for high school learners,” Nkosi says. “Featured professionals include an advocate, chartered accountant and medical doctor. Since May 2021, we have seen so much growth in our viewership – we now have more than 1 584 followers and subscribers, and over 56 000 views on Instagram and YouTube.”
Nkosi believes that alumni should fly the UP flag throughout their careers and achievements, and to give credit to the university. “We should also support fellow alumni that are at the beginning of their careers by sharing our industry experiences. In addition to what I learnt academically, I also learnt to be hardworking, resilient and to persevere. When I started working, I used all of this to complete my work diligently and on time, always going the extra mile and confidently presenting my work to my seniors. Knowing that I had the UP stamp of approval gave me confidence.”
She advises young people to set smart goals and remind themselves of their “why”, especially during challenging times. “In the face of adversity, it is important to remember that nothing is impossible, and that failure can be part of the process of achieving great things.”
Find Thuto Thusa’s online content here.