I met up with Shalom Kgofelo for my third feature of #MindsoftheYouth. Shalom is a very humble, smart, principled and simple guy. He is very reserved and doesn’t like to talk about himself, despite having achieved so much. Therefore, I have to press him a bit during our conversation. He currently works for FNB as a Product Specialist for Debit Cards.
As a top performing student at Northern Academy Independent School in Polokwane, Shalom was a deputy head boy in charge of academics.
I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation with Shalom and learned a lot from him. I hope you will also learn something from his journey:
Tell me about your upbringing & where you come from?
I was born and raised in a big family in a village called Ga-Dikgale outside of Polokwane. I am the third of four children. Living with different people in the same household taught me a lot about how different we are: we might come in the same home but come out different because we don’t value the same things. I went to primary school in Ga-Dikgale and went to boarding school at Northern Academy thereafter. This exposed me to a world filled with possibilities. One of the challenges that I faced was growing up without knowing my father.
How old are you this year and what are your plans?
I turned 25 on March 22
I am fascinated by the field of big data science. As a result, I am currently doing a Masters programme with the University of Pretoria (UP) called Masters of Information Technology (MIT) and Big Data Science.
What did you enjoy at school and what were your favourite subjects?
I enjoyed athletics and playing soccer
My favourite subjects were mathematics, physical science & life science because they came naturally to me.
What did you study after high school?
BEng: Honours in Chemical Engineering at UP
What are you currently interested in and what are you reading?
I am interested in our different outlooks and perspectives as a people. I am starting to appreciate the value of mixing with people who don’t hold the same views as myself because it challenges my thinking.
I recently read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of the second World War.
What I’ve learnt from the book is that you never know what people are going through so don’t be quick to judge – learn to understand and listen to their stories without bias.
What are you most proud of so far?
Making the top 10 in grade 8 for the first time in high school. That is where my academic journey began and I am grateful that I managed to maintain it throughout my high school journey. I ended up taking the top spot in matric as the best student.
What is your life’s philosophy and why?
It is centred around learning and becoming the best version of myself. Everyone around me benefits when I operate at my best.
What do you stand for and why?
I stand for authenticity – I don’t like people who are not true to themselves.
What are you currently battling with?
On a lighter note I struggle with people who pee and litter in public, I really don’t get it. It makes me angry!
On a deeper level, as someone who grew up with an absent father, I fail to understand their role. Why do we have so many absent fathers? How do you honour an individual who was just not there? These questions keep me up at night.
What do you like about SA and what can you improve?
I like its diversity – culture, race, religion etc. We need to start accepting and appreciating one another.
Have you registered to vote this year and why?
No, I didn’t. Honestly, I just didn’t make time to go and register. I will make time for the next elections.
What keeps you going?
Striving to improve my quality of life and that of my family.
What can you say to those who aspire to be where you are?
Start having deep internal conversations with yourself. Ask yourself, what do you want, why are you here, what do you want to achieve, what do you value, what is your purpose? Explore and try new things and don’t be afraid to fail.
What are you currently watching?
The Good Doctor
It is about a guy named Shaun Murphy, a young autistic surgeon who has savant syndrome. He relocates from the country to a prestigious hospital. This is supported by his mentor. After having survived a troubled childhood, Shaun is alone in the world and unable to connect with people around him.
What is your favourite quote?
“Pray without ceasing” from 1 Thessalonians 5:17 in the Bible