Youth Month 2023: Sammy Madalane

Youth Month 2023: Sammy Madalane

June is Youth Month, and this year the NRF is celebrating the Youth of the NRF who are advancing knowledge, transforming lives, and inspiring a nation. We thank all participants for sharing their stories with us.

Ms Sammy Madalane is a BA Honours student in Psychology: Applied Psychology for Professional Contexts at the University of South Africa. She is currently funded by the NRF.

How did your journey start?

I was born and raised in Acornhoek, Mpumalanga. My father passed on when I was three and my mother had to raise myself and my siblings as a single parent.

My dream of studying Psychology is a combination of personal experiences, a natural inclination to help people and my fascination with human behaviour. My personal experience with mental health challenges and having loved ones struggling with psychological issues sparked my curiosity about the human mind. My need to offer mental health support; having empathy and listening skills; my desire to observe and analyse human interactions and seek to understand the underlying processes; my desire to contribute to society, and improve the well-being of others, have led me to Psychology.

I did my BA in Psychology and Criminology at the University of Pretoria.

And yes, my current path is the one I envisioned for myself growing up.

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

I did not have any other means to fund my studies – the NRF came through for me and helped to make my dream a reality. It has also made me grow passionate about research in my field of study. Knowing that the NRF will pay my fees has become my driving force to focus more on my studies.

Did you have to overcome any obstacles to be where you are today, and what did you learn from it?

Yes, I have. Overcoming my obstacles has helped me gain invaluable insights and learn important lessons that helped me shape my personal growth. I have gained resilience, perseverance skills, self-awareness and self-confidence. It served as a powerful motivator for me to focus on my dreams and goals.

What is your research focus on/what is your area of expertise?

My research area is Ecosystemic Psychology. My project is entitled Gender-based Violence and Femicide: A social constructionist and gendered-discourse approach. My main focus is on examining gender power dynamics that are giving rise to gender-based violence (GBV) in the church, from a South African perspective.

How can your work/studies advance knowledge, transform lives, and inspire a nation?

Gender-based violence and femicide are a national pandemic and therefore need as much research as possible around it. My research focus will advance knowledge, transform lives and inspire the nation in several ways.

  • Raising awareness: My research brings attention to the prevalence, causes and consequences of gender power dynamics leading to GBV in religious institutions. It will uncover contributing factors of the nature of such violence and assist in the understanding of this issue. This knowledge can help identify vulnerable groups (women), high-risk situations, and specific power dynamics that perpetuate violence in the church. Such insights can inform targeted interventions and preventive measures. The research findings can serve as evidence-based resources for policymakers, religious leaders and legal authorities. The knowledge generated can influence the development of policies, guidelines and legislation aimed to prevent and address GBV within religious institutions. Survivors will get more protection and perpetrators held accountable.
  • Transforming religious institutions: Research can inspire churches in South Africa to critically examine their structures, teachings and practices in relation to GBV. It can encourage religious leaders to promote gender equality, challenge harmful norms and foster safe environments.
  • Empowering survivors: Research can amplify the voices and experiences of survivors of GBV in churches. By providing a platform for survivors to share their stories, it can help break the silence and stigma of such violence. This will empower victims and survivors to seek justice and access support services.

What are some of your proudest achievements?

To have graduated with my undergraduate degree in record time.

Also, receiving funding and being able to register to do my Honours.

What are your career aspirations for the future?

I would like to do a BPsych equivalent programme to register with the HPCSA as a Psychometrist or registered counsellor. I would love to do my Master’s as well and possibly be an NRF-rated researcher to contribute to the field of Psychology.

This work is licenced under an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 South Africa (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 ZA) license. Please view the terms for republishing here.

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