Young Minds

Meet Lehlohonolo Phali Who Is SA’s Youngest Maths PHD Holder

28-year-old Lehlohonolo Phali, has just received PhD in Applied Maths at the North West University at a graduation ceremony at the Mafikeng campus on 5 May 2016. Phali is currently a lecturer at his alumni and hopes to qualify for a senior lectureship in order to supervise post-graduate students. He will also be publishing articles in the near future. Lehlohonolo says a lot of his friends have had to leave university at honours level because they thought studying further was not a ‘sustainable’ move.

Lehlohonolo Phali

Lehlohonolo Phali, who has just become the youngest graduate at the University of The North West to receive a PhD Degree in applied mathematics, says anyone is capable of pursuing the qualification if given the opportunity.

Phali, who grew up in Sebokong in Gauteng, registered as a student at NWU in 2005 with the sole purpose of studying mathematics.

He says despite the financial challenge faced at home, he stuck it through for a number of reasons.


“Although I wasn’t planning to go this far, I knew I wanted to go the extra mile and I think I was lucky to get the kind of bursaries I got. But ultimately I’d say it’s because of the fact that we do not have enough researchers in South Africa and applied mathematics is a scarce skill, but I have always had a love for it since primary school”

His mother, who is a single parent, and his late supervisor, Professor Matthew Kambule, played significant roles in influencing his decisions.

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