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The Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Lablonde Juliette Kalalizi, is currently studying towards her Advance Diploma in Information and Communications Technology (ICT). She is also a Microsoft Learn Student Ambassador and an application Developer.

She is a woman who finds opportunity from challenging situations, who goes out of her comfort zone to accomplish what must be done. “Wherever other people see a problem, I see an opportunity, that is what drives me to my potential to find solutions. I am a hard-working young woman whose ambitions is to open opportunities to other women who want to embrace change and become inspirations to the world and future generations,” she said.

Kalalizi relayed that she is a public speaker, loves attending conferences, events and taking a chance to give what she has, whether it’s her skills that she must share with others or advice from her experience that she can share to motivate and inspire her followers.

She completed her ICT Diploma qualification, and is looking forward to continuing her Technology studies in her Advance Diploma, this year, 2021.

“Studying ICT was not my first choice when I applied to study at university, in fact it was a change of mind, but I am glad that God has provided me with this opportunity to be enrolled in ICT after I was rejected in Civil Engineering which was my first choice on my CAO Applications. Studying ICT has made me find my passion,” she said.

Kalalizi said it was difficult at the beginning, when she had started her first year in ICT in Application Development, she did not know how to use a computer, she did not understand what programming meant, neither would she know how to open a document or a file to get started with.

“I was born in a country where Technology is not yet developed. Where few people only had access to computers, laptops and those people must be from high class family to afford it. Nevertheless, the challenges I faced in my first year made me decide to not give up, rather try harder to understand the concept and change my life around by embracing the change and welcoming my new identity in the world of technology,” she said.

Not only is she focusing on her academics, but she also finds time to inspire other women through technology.

She is the founder and CEO of Womentech Inspire, a non-profit organisation that aim to empower women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Leadership.

“We provide mentorship programmes to female students, learners and women who have lost hope to find a job or to stand out for themselves to identify their potentials. I have applied for accreditation from Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA); this means I have the full right to provide these students with official certificates that are recognised by the government and thus will be able to open new opportunities for them after the completion of their mentorship programme,” she said.

She further added that the idea came when COVID-19 struck the whole world, when all countries went in lockdown and she was forced to study online, following the lecturers without being motivated to follow up on the screens, listening to the voice behind the screen without knowing what the next step would be.

“It was difficult seeing female students struggling to complete their school projects due to the lack of practical experiences and just staying dependent on males to do the hard work for them. Seeing local female entrepreneurs’ dropout of their businesses due to lack of technical skills that would have helped them to take their business online or build a website to grow their online customers to generate more income from marketing and orders. This is the reason why I decided to build up Womentech Inspire, a place where females will regain their hope, get mentored to achieve their dreams, and gain that confidence and self-esteem that will allow them to challenge themselves to do the hard work,” she said.

Kalalizi wants women to try and learn something new that can help them survive in the time of uncertainty.

Raising more followers on LinkedIn was one of her goals. LinkedIn is a professional Social Network where one can reach anyone one would like to connect with.

“Many people do not engage themselves with this media due to lack of information on how it can raise your network or increase the value of your professional life or business if any. LinkedIn is a vital tool for me to raise my organisation, especially during COVID-19 where everyone is working from home and those who are serious about their professional life cannot spend a week without looking on their LinkedIn profile or feeds to connect with new people or find opportunities,” she said.

She confessed that studying at DUT is the best opportunity that she was exposed to, DUT helped her to learn new skills that she never knew, it shaped her to become a person she is today.

“Before I applied to become a Microsoft learn Student Ambassador, I had to meet up with Gomolemo Mohapi, the ex-Microsoft Student Partner who just got employed by Microsoft as a Student Programme Manager, he shared his experience as a Microsoft Student Partner with us in the application development class and how he was given an opportunity to study in the USA. I was inspired by his story and I got motivated because I always wanted to help others,” she said.

Also, thanks to DUT she given the opportunity to participate in a full year Innovative Leadership programme led by Crispin Hemson.

Going forward, her goal is to become a qualified Software Developer or IT Specialist and a businesswoman.

“I want to run Womentech Inspire as an IT Company in the future that train and support women who want to specialise in tech fields,” she said.

Pictured: Lablonde Juliette Kalalizi

Waheeda Peters

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