Political science student represents Wayne State University at Salzburg Global Leadership Initiative

Ph.D. student Nozuko Hlwatika recently represented Wayne State University at the Salzburg Global Leadership Initiative in Austria, an international coalition of fellows tasked with tackling challenges in intergenerational social mobility.

The 2023 KFAS-Salzburg Global Leadership Initiative brought more than thirty thought leaders from twenty countries to Austria, October 9-13, for a forum titled: 'Uncertain Futures and Connections Reimagined: Connecting Generations.' Fellows were tasked with brainstorming global solutions to global challenges.

Among them was Nozuko Hlwatika, a Wayne State University Ph.D. student in political science.

“The world is more connected than we think,” Hlwatika said, “and in order for us to address current and future global challenges, we will have to work together across borders to ensure people from all backgrounds regarding race, age, religion, region, and sexual orientation are part of the solutions.”

The 2023 class focused on issues pertaining to demographic transition, financial sustainability, diverging values, immigration and intergenerational social mobility.

Hlwatika served on a panel that spoke on intergenerational mobility.

Hlwatika surrounded by peers in the library of the Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron, where the annual gathering of the KFAS-Salzburg Global Leadership Initiative took place last October.

“I shared my reflections on opportunities and barriers for social and economic mobility between generations. This included analyzing factors that contribute to inequality and investigation of policies and initiatives aimed at promoting upward mobility for all individuals, regardless of their background.”

Upward mobility

Hlwatika knows firsthand what it’s like to succeed despite the odds.

“My country, South Africa, is the most unequal country in the world. Poverty, unemployment and inequality are our biggest challenges,” she said.

After high school, she studied business and entrepreneurship but said that as graduation loomed, she wanted more.

“I became more and more concerned of the world around me and the socio-economic wellbeing of others.”

She went for her bachelor’s and then earned a master’s degree in public administration with a focus in policy making.

“I have always wanted to be in a space where I could influence policy and legislation for the benefit of the most vulnerable in society, particularly citizens living in poverty, especially women and children.”

The schooling was what she needed to land a government position as an economic development manager. In her personal time, Hlwatika helped young scholars in her community access higher education so that they might one day achieve the same career success.

Hlwatika in the library of the Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron.

It was in 2022 she heard about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, part of the Young African Leaders Institute, a State Department Program that supports the growth of extraordinary young leaders. She applied to the program and was selected along with twenty-five other young African leaders to visit Wayne State University, an institute partner of MWF.

The emerging scholars arrived in early June for the six-week Public Management Leadership Institute, co-managed by the Office of International Programs and the Master of Public Administration program.

Fellows participated in executive-style training and visited with partner organizations to enhance their leadership skills and develop connections with organizations and professionals operating in and around Metro Detroit.

“After a series of lectures and exercises on leadership delivered by WSU professors, I realized that WSU was the kind of institution that I would want to pursue my Ph.D.,” Hlwatika said. “I was astonished at how the WSU professors were not only highly intelligent and well accomplished but were incredibly self-aware, sensitive, in-touch with current events, understanding and relatable. The non-academic staff who were responsible for spearheading the MWF program at WSU were just as good. The overall quality of WSU and the city of Detroit in general drew me back in for my Ph.D.”

International education

Hlwatika is just getting started in her Ph.D. program, but already she’s thinking about the future. It comes with the territory of being an international thought leader.

“I am not yet fully certain of my career path, because I am interested in several things that have to do with making a positive impact in the world. However, at the top of my list is the possibility of going into academia, working for an international development organization such as the World Bank addressing poverty or returning to the South African Government at a much higher and more influential position than I was before.”

The possibilities are endless.

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