KEFILWE VERONICA MOOKODI
I grew up in Kraaipan, a rural village in the North West. I matriculated from Boithaopo High School before enrolling at NWU to study science. It was only when I was about to complete my undergraduate degree and wanted to further my studies in physics that I heard about a career in the nuclear field. The only thing I knew at the time was about the nuclear bombs I had seen in movies. A friend – who happens to be my husband today – told me about a programme managed by the Centre of Applied Radiation Science and Technology at NWU. That’s when I got to know about nuclear studies and nuclear as a possible career path. “Like all curious and inquisitive scientists, I decided to follow this new path and explore the application of science rather than pure science. I now know more of peaceful uses of nuclear technologies and I am very positive about it.” The nuclear field is vast and offers plenty of careers and opportunities, ranging from research and development to industrial applications and regulations. Although this is not my first job in the nuclear sector, being an inspector in the naturally occurring radioactive material industry, where we look at things like mines and mineral processing facilities and laboratories handling radioactive material, is particularly interesting to me. It’s my job to ensure that workers, the public, environment and properties are safe from possible radiation damage. Knowing that I am potentially saving people’s lives and keeping people safe by doing my job fulfills me. I am also exposed to different sectors and technologies in the various facilities like mines, laboratories and metal scrap holders, which means I broaden my knowledge. I don’t focus only on nuclear, but also learn about other fields such as engineering, quality management, and health and safety. Outside of work, I’m the secretary of the Kraaipan Youth Foundation, an organisation that aims to assist learners from disadvantaged families with school uniforms. Helping people in this way is very satisfying. As the treasurer of the South African Young Nuclear Society and a woman in the nuclear field, I believe that young women should know that nuclear is not an easy industry to enter. It is still male-dominated, but we as women should stop waiting to reach the light at the end of the tunnel and commit to being that shining light. Dream big, work hard, stay focused and never give up.