NRF Youth Month 2024: Pfumelani Cibi

NRF Youth Month 2024: Pfumelani Cibi

This year’s Youth Month is significant as the NRF celebrates 25 Years of Research, Innovation, Impact and Partnerships. These are the stories of the youth who have not only been impacted by the NRF but who also have an impact in their own spaces – and beyond! We thank all participants for sharing their stories with us.

Ms Pfumelani Cibi is an Honours student in Media Studies at the University of Venda. She is currently funded by the NRF for her studies.

How did your journey start?

I am from the rural village of Rainbow Trust, Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga. I possess a strong sense of confidence, exhibit impeccable manners, and approach life with enthusiasm and passion. These qualities have shaped me into a dedicated and driven individual.

I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Media Studies. I come from a disadvantaged socio-economic background, so upon completing my final level of studies, I was burdened with the worry of how I would be able to further my education.

I was aware of a common perception during my academic tenure that the field of study that I chose was considered to have limited career opportunities and applicability in the real world. This notion, held by some, positioned the degree as having constrained utility and relevance in the job market.

Thus, it is with great satisfaction that I see my professional vision materialise into a tangible reality.

Now, while I am currently pursuing my studies, I am also a radio news presenter at my institution. This development not only brought my vision to life but also provided me with valuable industry experience. I take this opportunity as a stepping stone to further my advancements in my career. As I move forward in my career, I aspire to not only excel as a media professional but also serve as a role model and inspiration to future generations of media enthusiasts.

How has your affiliation with the NRF impacted your studies/career?

I am indebted to the National Research Foundation for their support, which has enabled me to reach my current position.

From a young age, I harboured a deep-seated ambition to pursue a career in the media industry. As mentioned above, the common perception during my academic tenure that this field was considered to have limited opportunities, made me feel a sense of uncertainty about my career path. I am now relieved and thankful that I did not succumb to discouragement because NRF came to my rescue. This marked the beginning of a pivotal transition.

My current standing is a direct result of the opportunities provided by the NRF. It not only provided financial support but has also contributed significantly to my personal growth and development. I am committed to making the most of this opportunity and achieving academic excellence. It has brought a positive transformation in my life, alleviating the stress and uncertainty that I previously faced. I was able to register for my Honours degree without any complications. Nevertheless, I was unaware that this decision would trigger a substantial change in the course of my life, leading to a major transformation in my goals, aspirations, and overall life’s journey.

Regarding personal growth and development, I am delighted to report that the NRF’s financial support allowed me to dedicate myself to my studies, leading to a marked increase in my confidence and the development of new skills. As a direct result, I have experienced a deep sense of pride and fulfilment in my academic journey, as I have been able to achieve academic success and reach new heights.

What is your area of expertise?

My research focus is on the pressing issue of cyberbullying on social media, with a specific focus on high school pupils in Bushbuckridge. My area of expertise lies in exploring the intersections of media, technology, and societal dynamics, with a particular interest in the effects of social media on youth.

Through my research, I aim to contribute to the ongoing conversations and efforts to address the complex issues surrounding cyberbullying and to provide valuable insights to stakeholders, including educators, policymakers, and mental health professionals. By examining the experiences and perceptions of high school pupils in Bushbuckridge, I hope to shed light on the local nuances and implications of this global concern.

Why is your work/studies important?

My research on cyberbullying on social media, specifically Facebook’s impact on high school pupils, is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it addresses a pressing concern that affects the mental health, well-being, and academic performance of young people who are vulnerable to online harassment and bullying. Secondly, this study contributes to the global discourse on cyberbullying, providing valuable insights into the South African context, which can inform evidence-based policies and interventions.

By exploring the experiences and perceptions of high school pupils in Bushbuckridge, my research can identify effective strategies for mitigating the negative effects of cyberbullying, promoting a safer online environment, and fostering digital literacy among young people. Furthermore, my findings can benefit South Africa and the rest of the world in several ways:

  • Inform policy and legislative reforms to address cyberbullying.
  • Develop targeted interventions and support programs for victims and perpetrators.
  • Enhance awareness and education campaigns to promote responsible social media usage.
  • Contribute to the development of global best practices for addressing cyberbullying.

As a news presenter, I am also committed to disseminating my research findings through media platforms, raising awareness, and sparking conversations about this critical issue. By doing so, I hope to inspire positive change, promote a culture of empathy and inclusivity, and contribute to creating a safer and more compassionate community for all.

What are some of your proudest academic achievements?

Although I am still in the process of completing my Honours, I am proud of the progress I have made so far. A notable achievement is being awarded funding from the NRF. I am excited to continue working on my research and contribute to the existing body of knowledge on cyberbullying. I am confident that my findings will provide valuable insights and recommendations for addressing this pressing issue, and I look forward to sharing my results with the academic and wider communities.

I would love to extend my sincere gratitude to the NRF.

The rights to this article (content and images) are reserved by the National Research Foundation of South Africa. This work is licenced under an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 DEED) license: this implies that the article may be republished (shared) on other websites, but the article may not be altered or built upon in any way. Credit must be given to the National Research Foundation and a link provided back to the original article.

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