“We grow by growing others.”

Thendo Gertie Makhado


Health & Wellness

Organisation / Company

University of Venda


Thendo Gertie Makhado, 28, is a junior lecturer at the University of Venda, responsible for clinical practicals. Her primary role is to guide nursing students in bridging the gap between theory and practice by delivering lectures that emphasise the application of theoretical knowledge in real-world clinical settings. Additionally, she accompanies students to clinics and provides hands-on support. Thendo is a role model who fosters their development into competent professional nurses. Her responsibilities extend beyond teaching to include active involvement in community work and research. Her research focuses on critical health issues such as epilepsy and needlestick injury prevention, aiming to enhance healthcare education and reduce the stigma associated with neurological conditions. She strives to improve the quality of nursing education and contribute to the advancement of healthcare in the country. Thendo is working on several initiatives and projects focused on improving healthcare outcomes. These aim to empower and teach parents of children with special needs, promoting inclusivity and helping children with learning disabilities achieve independence. Thendo says her development and success is intertwined with the support and empowerment she provides to others.


Bachelor of Nursing, University of Venda
Advanced University Diploma in Health Sciences: Health Science Education, North-West University
PhD in Nursing, University of Venda
Master of Nursing: Maternal Health, University of Venda


A highlight for me was accomplishing my PhD thesis, for which I was awarded the title of the 2023 South African Women in Science (Doctoral) laureate under the DSI Ndoni Mcunu awards. This endeavour, supported by the South African Medical Research Council and the GladAfrica Foundation Trust, was dedicated to crafting Epilepsy Life Skills Education Guidelines for primary schools in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provinces. The goal of this was to dismantle the stigma surrounding epilepsy and to equip teachers and students with the knowledge to foster an inclusive environment for children affected by the condition. The culmination of this project was the publication of six articles in recognised peer-reviewed journals, demonstrating the significant impact of integrating epilepsy education into the life skills curriculum.
Embarking on this journey, from the initial concept to its realisation and the subsequent publications, underscored the critical importance of resilience, determination, and the invaluable support of the community. The accolades I received not only highlighted the importance of my contributions to healthcare education by reducing the stigma associated with epilepsy but also taught me a vital lesson — one’s potential is not confined by age, gender, or background. This project showcased the indispensable role of collaboration and community involvement.


I’ve been incredibly lucky to have several mentors and role models who have profoundly influenced my journey. Their guidance, support, and examples have been invaluable in shaping both my career and personal development. During my PhD studies, I was fortunate to be mentored by Professor RT Lebese, Professor Mashudu Davhana-Maselesele and Professor L Makhado. They provided me with essential academic guidance and research support, inspiring me with their expertise in health education and their commitment to improving healthcare outcomes. Their teachings emphasised the importance of perseverance, meticulousness, and the significant impact of rigorous research on public health. Professor N Feza has also been an instrumental mentor, consistently reinforcing that gender should never be seen as a limitation and actively supporting young women in academia. Another pivotal figure in my life is Professor NV Sepeng, a 37-year-old black female and an associate professor at the University of Pretoria’s Nursing Science Department. Her research on vulnerable populations, interdisciplinary collaboration, and community-focused initiatives greatly inspires me. Seeing her achievements and dedication, I am reminded of the heights I can reach as a young woman in academia. These mentors and role models have not only guided me academically and professionally but have also shown me the values of dedication, empathy, and excellence. I strive to embody these qualities in my career, and I am profoundly grateful for their significant effect on my development.