20 April 2023
Having been shortlisted as a finalist in the Women in Agriculture category of the 2023 Women Changing the World awards, Royal Agricultural University (RAU) lecturer Dr Patricia Mathabe was delighted to also be recognised in the Education category of the prestigious global awards.
South African Patricia, who joined the RAU as a lecturer in Agricultural Technology last November, won bronze in the Agriculture category but was then additionally awarded the silver award in the Women in the Education category at Tuesday night’s awards ceremony in London where the Duchess of York was the guest of honour.
Patricia said: “It is really nice to be recognised in this way. I do what I do because I love it and I don’t really worry about recognition and rewards so when they come it’s really very special, especially for me as a woman of colour.
“I had to fight the apartheid system in South Africa and find my place in a country that was not used to successful people, especially not women. It’s been a very long, and sometimes painful, journey but, when you are recognised in this way, you realise it was all worth it after all.”
Patricia, who was born in Pretoria during the apartheid era, was raised by her single mother and received Bantu education, deigned to educate black South Africans for the unskilled labour market.
However, she always knew that she wanted to get a better education and, at the age of just 12, she joined Settlers Agricultural High School, one of the first four black students to be admitted into the traditionally white school and the only girl in the agriculture classroom.
She went on to win various prestigious bursaries and scholarships enabling her to study in South Africa, the UK, and the USA.
After leaving school, she completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Biotechnology at the Vaal University of Technology through the National Research Foundation Bursary before being awarded the prestigious Nelson Mandela Scholarship to study a Master’s Degree in Biotechnology at Cambridge University. She then completed her PhD in Plant Sciences at Montana State University on a competitive Fulbright Scholarship.
Patricia, who moved to the UK in January 2022 and led the BSc (Hons) Agribusiness Management degree at Easton College in Norwich before joining the RAU, has vast experience in agricultural technology diffusion, and international undergraduate and post-graduate student supervision, and has also carried out research into agricultural proteomics.
She added: “At the awards ceremony it was so inspirational to be surrounded by so many women, from all over the world, all doing amazing things. I just hope that these awards will inspire others to keep pursuing their dreams, to fight the fight, and to get there. I think this is just the beginning of even greater things to come.”
Patricia also thanked the RAU for its support saying: “You need to be in the right environment for all these things to be manifested. For me, working at the RAU is a dream come true. The support I have had from the University has been unbelievable and I have been so proud to say I work here.”