- When Zoleka Filander decided to become a marine biologist, her grandparents were opposed to it
- They believed that the sea is a sacred space and she would be violating it
- However, she pushed on and is now a top marine biologist in South Africa
A determined Zoleka Filander chose to follow her passion for marine biology despite heavy opposition from her family.
Zoleka's grandparents even disowned her, Beautiful News reports. They believed that the sea is a sacred place and Zoleka would therefore be violating it through her career.
Nevertheless, the KwaZulu-Natal-born Zoleka pushed on. She moved to Cape Town, where she obtained her master's degree in marine biology.
She subsequently became an offshore scientist, Briefly.co.za learned. However, she faced an uphill task as a black woman in the white- and male-dominated field.
This inspired Zoleka, 30, to work even harder to make a name for herself. She obtained a diving licence within a year of learning to swim.
Before long, Zoleka became the chief researcher in a three-year project that documented the Cape Canyon. She and members of her team were the first people ever to see the underwater valley.
The talented marine biologist has since discovered five possible new coral species. She eventually reconciled with her grandparents, who now fully support her.
Mail&Guardian named Zoleka in its prestigious 2018 200 Young South Africans list for her contribution to marine biology.
Zoleka is now pursuing her PhD and mentoring kids in science. She said, "My journey has just begun and I look forward to teaching more people about the marine world."
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