Sihle Mpofu was born in abject poverty in Zimbabwe. Through sheer determination, she completed her Advanced Level (Year 12) in Zimbabwe at the age of 23 and then decided to move to Australia to further her studies. In 2019, she started her Bachelor of Community Services at Box Hill Institute.
Sihle is a strong advocate for racial and religious tolerance and her dream is to one day have a society where all people are equal regardless of their race or religion. She is committed to this dream and serves as the African Ambassador for the Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission’s Reducing Racism Project. She said, "I have been passionate about making a change in the world since I was young and I always knew that I was destined for a career that involves giving back to the community."
Delivering information and education sessions to various groups, Sihle was also the keynote speaker at a Ballarat African Association event and has spoken at Box Hill Institute's city campus. She said, "I shared my personal experiences with racism and appealed to the audience to take a united stance and fight to end racism."
Academic achievements are a vital aspect of Sihle's life, as she has been very dedicated to her studies. Due to her academic success and community involvement, Sihle has been a finalist in Box Hill Institute's Degree Student of the Year awards, the 2020 Victorian International Education Awards, and she was a nominee in two categories in the Seven Network News’ Young Achiever Awards for the Leadership Award and for the Most Inspirational TAFE Student Award.
Due to graduate from the Bachelor of Community Services at the end of 2021, Sihle said, “I have already gained immense knowledge of community services work and the work placements that I have undertaken have been instrumental."
Despite the impact of COVID-19, Sihle used her platform as the Study Melbourne 2020 Ambassador to promote racial harmony in the community by writing articles about her experiences as an international student of colour in Melbourne. She has also worked with Insider Guides to produce a welcome brochure for students coming to settle in Melbourne, which provides information about transport services, health, and safety. "By sharing my experiences with other international students, I get to be the helping hand that I wish I had when I first arrived in Melbourne, and I hope to enrich their own experiences," she said.
As part of her Community Services degree, Sihle completed a leadership and management unit, which has helped her realise what makes a good leader and allowed her to become a more effective leader. She said, "My journey as an international student has been nothing short of life-changing. I have grown from someone who was merely trying to find their way in a foreign country to gaining confidence to be vocal about matters that are close to my heart."
Sihle hopes to gain employment in Australia in the multicultural services sector to use the knowledge she acquired to contribute to the community. She also plans to take her skills global and is currently setting up a not-for-profit women's rights organisation in her birth country. She said women in Zimbabwe are in dire need of a service that advocates for them.
Sihle said, "I have gained invaluable experience and built great professional relationships through networks, which I would never have gained if it were not for my studies. With a qualification from a Victorian Institution, the world is your oyster."