Witsie pioneer on TIME 100 most influential people

Time Magazine shared its 14th annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world and Wits University academic, Glenda Gray, made it under the ‘Pioneers’ category alongside hip hop artist Chance the Rapper, Ivanka Trump, and actor comedian Jordan Peele.

Gray was chosen by TIME Magazine executive editor Siobhan O’Connor because of her ongoing HIV-vaccine study which has been the largest of its kind ever conducted in South Africa.

“Gray decided to fight the virus and the silence around it through research. Thanks in part to her work on mother-to-child transmission, the number of babies born with HIV has dropped from 600,000 a year to 150,000,” O’Connor said.

According to TIME, the most influential list includes Presidents and Prime Ministers, CEOs and celebrities and others of “less fame but great force, in the power of their inventions, the scale of their ambitions, and the genius of their solutions to problems that no one before them could solve.”

The Witsie has since recieved praise from South Africans for making it on the list.

Gray also made headlines at the beginning of April for being appointed the first African female chair of the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD) where she chatted to Wits Vuvuzela about her appointment. She also currently holds the position of the President of the South African Medi-cal Research Council (MRC).

According to Wits News, the Wits Alumni graduated from Wits medical school in 1986 and in 1996 she and James McIntyre co-founded the Perinatal HIV Research Unit, based in Soweto.

Last year a fellow Wits scientist also made it onto the most influential list. Professor Lee Burger was named on the list of Pioneers as well for his explorations into human origins in Africa and the Homo Naledi discovery.

When the Wits professor isn’t busy doing scientific research or fulfilling her duties of chair of the GACD or president of the MRC she enjoys her own quality time. In an earlier interview she told Wits Vuvuvzela that she enjoys listening to music, watching great art movies, swimming or drinking red wine in winter.

Cool Kid

This week’s cool kid features Marco Rademeyer and his very cool hover board.

Fourth year Film and TV student, Marco Rademeyer.

Fourth year Film and TV student, Marco Rademeyer.


Cool kid on campus: Thando Gumede

Thando Sibongiseni Gumede, a final year Law student at Wits, is not only an Allan Gray Scholarship recipient and a Brightest Young Minds (BYM) awardee, but is also an advocate for the education of black girl children and substantive equality. A self-proclaimed feminist, she remains highly competitive in a male dominated industry.

COOL KID: Thando Gumede, a final year law student is not only interested in Law but in the advancement of black girl children through education. Photo: Katleho Sekhotho

COOL KID: Thando Gumede, a final year law student is not only interested in Law but in the advancement of black girl children through education. Photo: Katleho Sekhotho

You are studying Law but also have a keen interest in entrepreneurial activities, why?

Where the world is going is something I like to call cross-educational pollination. It means that gone are the days where law students go to law school to become a lawyer. So now, faculties will be teaching skills, skills that can go anywhere and in any way they want to.

Entrepreneurship is a mind-set where you identify inefficiencies and then solve those problems. So when you have cross-educational pollination, then someone who’s an engineer has got the hopes of becoming the president, not just a politics student.

You were chosen as one of the ‘Brightest Young Minds’. What exactly does that mean and how do you feel to be chosen as one?

It’s about collecting the brightest young minds on the African continent, 100 people all over Africa came together through a selection process. It wasn’t about marks, it was really just about people who presented ideas and presented themselves in a genuine way. All I can say is wow! The event was a great networking opportunity.

What are you currently working on?

There are basically two things I’m working on, it’s a new technology for sanitary pads and the other is a tech company. I’ve written a research paper on that [the former], it was about the right to basic education for black girl children in rural South Africa; one of the hindrances of going to school is [a girls] menstruation, so their biological disposition.

The postulation I make is that I say to the state, it has a constitutional obligation to balance the scales for both boys and girls.

You say you are an advocate for education and particularly substantive education, what does that mean?

Government needs to provide proper sanitation in schools, pads and panties to girls, particularly to girls in that community, either through social grants or making those things freely available to them.

That is called substantive equality. It’s better than formal equality, substantive equality asks why? At the starting line you need to remove all the rocks and boulders that are on the race track for girls to be able to manoeuvre themselves freely and equally.