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Meet Stephanie, KnowBe4's 2023 Women of Colour in Cybersecurity in South Africa Scholarship Winner

By: KnowBe4 HR

Published: 20 Dec 2023
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2023

As KnowBe4's global footprint continues to grow, we remain committed to making a positive difference in all the communities where we operate. Proudly, we recently launched our inaugural Women of Colour in Cybersecurity Scholarship in South Africa. This annual award provides ZAR 110,000 and an (ISC)2 certification opportunity for a deserving woman of colour based in the country. We're thrilled to feature an interview with Stephanie, the well-deserving recipient of our 2023 scholarship, in today's company blog. Her story underscores the importance and impact of programs aimed at enhancing diversity within the cybersecurity field.

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What initially sparked your interest in cybersecurity?

When I was younger, my sister and I always watched crime shows together. We realized that there was a spin-off of CSI called CSI: Cyber, which sparked my interest. I was so impressed by the diversity in the cast, as it was the first time I saw a cast in the tech industry that represented people like me. This diversity inspired me to get into the tech industry myself. I was fascinated by the psychology behind finding out who the cyber criminals were and understanding why and how they did the things they did. Figuring out the human motivation behind cyber crimes sparked my interest in the people aspect of working in technology. Overall, seeing representation and learning about the psychology of cyber security fueled my passion for pursuing a career in this growing field.


1How will this scholarship help you start your career?

This scholarship will help fund my final year of studies. I have spoken to a few mentors about their thesis projects, so I am excited to be able to complete this school year with the support of this scholarship. Getting tips, tricks, knowledge, and networking opportunities through KnowBe4 from people already working in the industry will be extremely helpful. Connecting with professionals will help me grow my skills and network as I prepare to enter cybersecurity upon graduation. I am grateful for this opportunity to learn from experienced professionals as I work to finish my degree.



5What do you like to do for fun?

I love exploring my new city like a tourist! Although I moved to Cape Town for school, I still enjoy taking road trips with friends to discover new places. I like trying activities and local restaurants that I never would have experienced otherwise. Moving here has allowed me opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone. Sketching provides a creative outlet when I need a break from my studies. Drawing lets me unwind and see beauty in everyday things. I'm grateful to live in such an inspiring place, which fuels my passion for the arts even as I challenge myself academically.



3Who inspires you?

The two people who inspire me most are my sister and my mother. My sister was the first in our family to graduate college, and seeing the life she has built for herself after all the sacrifices my parents made in immigrating here inspires me to try and emulate her strength and character. My mom is the most supportive woman I know. I can always talk to her about anything, no matter what. During my first year away at school, when I struggled to be apart from my family, she checked in daily to ensure I was adjusting okay. Just hearing her voice was comforting. She is there for me through everything and shows me every day what an amazing woman looks like. My sister and mother drive me to work hard and stay focused on my goals, as they have overcome so much. I am incredibly lucky to have them in my life.


2What is your favorite quote?

One quote I have carried with me for a long time is "Why give up today when tomorrow could be the day you win?" It perfectly encapsulates the importance of perseverance. I know from experience that life often presents demotivating challenges. As a first-generation student, thanks to my family's sacrifices, I've already come so far. This gives me the determination to push through any obstacles I may face. There will always be setbacks, but that's no reason to throw it all away after working so hard. This motto reminds me that success may be just around the corner as long as I keep going. It gives me the strength to keep fighting even on days when giving up seems easiest. I will never stop striving toward my dreams and goals because tomorrow could be the day everything changes through perseverance.



What advice would you give to someone applying for this scholarship?

I really believe in just putting myself out there and going for opportunities, even if I'm unsure about the outcome. The worst that can happen is not getting it this time, and then I can try again later. But I'll never know my potential if I don't apply at all. That's why submitting my application for this scholarship was so important to me. As a non-citizen permanent resident in Africa, finding scholarships open to me has been a challenge. Most government awards only accept citizens. But I refused to let that deter me from persisting in my search. When I discovered KnowBe4's scholarship program was open to all residents, regardless of citizenship status, I knew I had to submit my application. Even if I didn't win, at least I took the chance instead of wondering, 'what if?'. Now, I'm hoping my perseverance pays off.

Are you KnowBe4's next scholarship winner?


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