- Please give a short bio of yourself.
My name is Mwenge Ibrahim Lukombe, second year public relations student at the university of Johannesburg. I am a member of the UJ technoprenuership centre and an aspiring creative and academic writer. In 2021 published a poetry manuscript on amazon kindle and look forward to publishing more in the future. My work involves research, writing and evaluating to create intriguing contents on various topics, product or people in order to enable satisfactory social media publicity. I am looking forward to growing and implementing the practice of public relations into digital marketing and into the technological environment. I aspire to live in an eco-friendly and technology driven world. I believe everything we do from the moment we wake up is an opportunity to better the world, thus, I strive to live an impactful life.
- Tell us about your educational background. Which institution did you study at? What did you major in? Why did you choose this institution?
I did my secondary school at Barnato park high where I obtained a bachelor’s endorsement degree, with Mathematics, Business studies, life sciences and consumer studies being my major subjects. I chose UJ because I was looking to further my studies in a field which will be tech oriented so that I could be an innovative thinker to keep up with the evolution of technology in the workplace, what a better place to do so than at the leading University in 4IR.
- How has your journey at the University of Johannesburg been?
It been challenging to say the least as I had to adapt from full contact learning back in high school to online learning. It was very tough, and I had a to learn, from computer literacy to referencing techniques and academic writing. However, I had the willingness to learn so I dedicated my time and effort to listen to my lecturers and tutors, with their help I was able to adapt to the University environment and excel in my studies.
- What role/s have you played in the institution?
UJ is an institution which is very keen on community development and youth empowerment, through the UJ community engagement activities and Technopreneurship centre, the University offered me a chance to play an advocacy and branding role for the institution through activities such as Inner city with the UJ community engagement and hackathons with the Technoprenuership centre.
- What role/s have you played in the Department of Strategic Communication?
During registration period earlier this year I part of the Adopt a First-year initiative which aimed to provide guidance to first year students in the department in terms of registration and adapting to the University environment. In the beginning of the academic year, I was elected class rep for one of my modules, this helped me to play the advocacy role between students and lecturers.
- What are some of the challenges you have faced while pursuing your career/qualification in Strategic Communication?
In terms of challenges, tuition is top of the list for me, especially because I am an international student so there is no external bursary which will cover my studies. However, the University has internal bursaries which are set to cater for students like me who are not NSFAS funded, that is the reason why I am a still a UJ students. Apart from school fees, academic pressure has been another major challenge as sometimes I will have multiple submissions due on the same day, but I have learned to use the pressure to motivate me to grow both mentally and academically.
- Please share the projects you have been involved in recently? [What are some of the societal issues you have identified? How have you used your expertise to help solve them.
I have been involved in quite a few projects with the Technopreneurship centre though hackathons (software development competition) in these two years, majority of these tackled issues such as anger, poverty, unemployment and health. I was invested to take part in the public sector innovation hackathon which aimed to better the agriculture sector to eradicate anger in the country, my team developed an application to help farmers to better understand crop diversity and manage crops better trough machine learning of the weather conditions of different locations, our idea finished 4th.
We later participated in the Empire partner foundation agriculture hackathon where we were the second runner-up. Earlier this month we participated in the Hack for Earth global hackathon where we developed an application to help HIV/Aids patients with their treatments to alleviate the burden on the country’s health care system. Of course, one might wonder how these are related to public relations or strategic communication, the fact is, with any issue within our society proper research need to be conducted before we can fully understand and develop a solution, and this is where I come in as a PR student to provide key insight to my team on whichever issue we might be tackling.
Furthermore, I always say it is good to have a brilliant idea which might be useful to the society but the key to implementing the idea lays in the communication around its benefits to the society, this what will attract investors and influence decision makers to support your idea. Lastly, I was like enough to work on two of Gautrain’s major marking campaigns for 2022 as a promoter, there I got to experience the pressure of dealing with hundreds of people if not thousands at once. However, this was an opportunity for me to practice my communication and stress management skills, as I had to interact with diverse people in terms of race, culture and religion.
- What advice would you give to UJ Strategic Communication Alumni starting their careers in the industry?
Communication can change the world for better or for worse, as strategic communication as students we are given the fundamental skill for human existence, with this we can build relationship with anyone on this planet. So my advice to alumni is to go change the world through effective and strategic communication and by the way, you do not need an opportunity to start because “Everything you do from the moment you wake up is and opportunity” (Professor Rene Benecke).
Interview by Ms. Refiloe Mofokeng