Her love of numbers and statistics has opened up a whole new world of exciting possibilities for Galaletsang Madisha. It’s a world of opportunities, and one that she wants to explore.
Galaletsang originally had her heart set on going into the aviation field, but “fell in love with statistics”. Now studying towards a BSc degree in Applied Mathematics and Statistics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, she is planning to complete post-graduate studies in the subject.
The young woman was born in 1996 in Mabopane township in Pretoria. Raised by her mother after her father passed away when she was six, she was further devastated after losing her mother to breast cancer when she was just 14 years old. She and her four-year-old brother then moved in with their grandmother in Pretoria. Their loss has inspired her drive to take care of her family.
Her means to do so will come via the career she has chosen to pursue. “I’ve always been a numbers person and statistics has opened another world of exciting possibilities for me,” she says. “Most people seem to hate statistics but I absolutely love it because it is so challenging and I love challenges.”
Galaletsang prefers not to follow the herd when it comes to her career choice. “I don’t like following common career paths, and I don’t like doing what everyone else is doing. I tend to follow the path that other people don’t go for so a career in aviation might be on hold for now, but it is something I would like to pursue in the future,” she adds.
Galaletseng started developing her leadership skills early on. “I loved my primary school years, although looking back I was a bit of a bully, but a smart bully,” she admits. “I was a class representative in Grade 2 and very popular at school. But I now realise that I was a bit bossy and controlling and I liked it when people did what I told them to do.” Nevertheless, she adds, “… people from primary school all remember me for the good things I did, so it couldn’t have been that bad”.
In high school (Amandasig Secondary School), her English teacher Mr Mohlamonyane played a huge role in encouraging her to excel academically, and he remains a supportive influence in her life. “To this day we still talk; he still motivates me and I even call him Dad,” she says.
Galaletsang has a strong support base at home, and is buoyed by the love that comes from her family. “My family is my home. My family is everything,” she says. “Being around my aunts, my uncles, my cousins – the love is overwhelming, especially after losing my mom. They are always there for me – whenever I’m feeling discouraged and under pressure, my family always cheers me on,” she says.
The support she gets from the Moshal community echoes that family bond, and her acceptance into the Moshal program made her believe that God was finally answering her prayers. “When I got the message from Moshal to call urgently, I didn’t even have airtime. I had to borrow airtime from my cousin,” she recollects.
When she heard she’d been awarded the scholarship, she was overcome with joy. “I ran out tell my Granny and didn’t realise I was speaking English. I said, ‘Granny I’ve got good news.’ But her English isn’t so good. She asked me what I wanted to eat! When she realised what had happened she was so happy,” Galaletsang recalls.
Crosshead Positive influences
Galaletsang is grateful for the immeasurable support that the Moshal Program offers their students. “They are constantly taking care of us, checking that we are okay. Even if you feel so stressed out that you want to give up on your studies, they remind you that you are in this program because you wanted to change the world – and that there is a loving community and all the emotional support you need to see you through,” she says.
The Moshal Program teaches its students to pay it forward and to give back to the community, and Galaletsang says this has had a strong and positive influence on the way she thinks and acts.
“I like to give back academically,” she says. “Moshal teaches you to be there for others, to be there for somebody who needs what you can share and I believe that a kind word, some advice and just giving a hug to someone who’s feeling down can help to make a difference.”
The name Galaletsang means ‘praise’ in Tswana and this cheerful young student wholeheartedly embodies that in her faith and belief in God. Galaletsang says she’s inspired by her little brother, now 12 years old, who looks up to her and makes her want to try harder and do better – to be a great example to him. There is little doubt that she is succeeding in her mission.