First Black Woman Earns PhD in Data Science at University of Johannesburg

BY: Jubilant Cheyeza Baloyi           

Khensani Xivuri has made history as the first black female to graduate with a PhD in Applied Data Science from the University of Johannesburg. The ceremony took place at UJ on Thursday, 14 March 2024.

Dr. Xivuri described thHailing from the village of Peninghotsa, Malamulele in the Limpopo province. Her ground-breaking achievement is a testament to her hard work, dedication, and determination to break down barriers in the field of data science.

She explained the experience as immensely demanding yet exhilarating, with nights blending into mornings, juggling between academics and employment posing formidable challenges.

“At first, red marks adorned nearly every submission from my supervisor, but progress eventually emerged.”

Xivuri explained that she’s proud of being called Dr. Xivuri and is urging other women to continue breaking barriers and putting their names in STEM fields. “It feels absolutely incredible! I’m overflowing with happiness and fulfillment. Throughout my journey, I’ve thrived on challenges; I find joy in pushing my limits and see every difficulty as a chance to exceed my past accomplishments, which is truly invigorating. I believe women should embrace STEM careers as thrilling adventures; we must encourage more women to mark their place and ignite inspiration for the next generation in this field. The greater our presence in STEM, the more empowering it becomes for future generations of women. We need leaders committed to uplifting others as they progress,” she added.

Dr. Xivuri’s research will focus on developing a procedural model aimed at identifying and mitigating bias in Artificial Intelligence (AI) models prior to their implementation. According to the Director of the School of Consumer Intelligence and Information Systems at UJ, Dr. Stella Bvuma expressed her feelings towards Dr. Xivuri’s achievement and celebrated her for obtaining such a degree.

“Her accomplishment surpasses mere academic triumph, it embodies the essence of shattering barriers and paving the way for forthcoming generations. In an era increasingly reliant on data and technology, experts like Khensani serve as invaluable assets, adept at navigating the digital terrain with confidence and profound knowledge,” Dr Stella Bvuma said.

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