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Lethabo Pholoto

2019 intern

Lethabo Pholoto places the value of environmental research above all others, explaining that through education we are able to understand the complex problems we face today and investigate solutions that have the power to unite people behind a single cause.

With a Master of Science degree in Geography and Environmental Sciences from the University of the Witwatersrand, Lethabo is a Skills Development Practitioner intern with WWF’s Environmental Leaders Programme.

We asked her to share more about herself:  

What motivated your career choice?
I originally wanted to study Law which was popular and reputable in my village but after attending a university open day, I learned about the Environmental Sciences degree and I was hooked. I have been exposed to the harsh realities that many communities face, like being excluded from conversations around environmental challenges and its solutions. My goal is to be part of the innovative research that brings communities’ voices into these conversations.
What do you hope to gain from the internship?
I hope to add practical skills to my theoretical learning. So far, jump-starting my professional career at WWF has been a privilege.

What excites you the most about the internship?
Learning about the organisation’s work and exploring different career possibilities has been exciting. Conducting research with previous interns has allowed me to learn from their successes and has inspired me to join their ranks.
What do you think is the biggest environmental issue the world is facing right now?
Our indifferent behaviour towards the environment has begun to threaten future generations’ access to natural resources. We need to collectively address the way we treat and consume these resources.
What contribution do you wish to make to the well-being of people and nature?
Through innovative and all-inclusive research, I wish to extend society’s knowledge on the importance of using natural resources sustainably. If people are aware of their role and actions on the environment, they are more likely to join conservation efforts.
If you had a chance to change one thing in the world, what would it be?
I would even out inequalities and help disadvantaged communities to access better livelihood opportunities.
Who do you admire the most and why?
My grandmother has always prioritised and espoused access to a decent education. She is a strong supporter of furthering my studies and continuing to grow as a person. 
Professionally, I find Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s work very inspiring and relatable. She uses realist literature to articulate today’s realities, especially those of women.
What role do you think your generation could play in creating a better world for all?
We could create a better future by channelling more of the optimism and creativity we already possess into resolving the environmental challenges and inequalities that currently exist.

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