Magteld Smith: Passion, Energy, and Leadership

News & Updates

Magteld Smith: Passion, Energy, and Leadership

Magteld Smith, a Public Policy Humphrey fellow from 2012-2013, has been using the skills gained during her Humphrey year in Minnesota to work towards providing opportunities for those with disabilities in South Africa. Throughout her career, Smith has helped establish the analysis of disability as a field in academic research and teaching.

As a fellow at the University of Minnesota, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Smith demonstrated enthusiasm, openness, and leadership. Smith’s Assistant Coordinator, Rosa Tock says, “[Magteld] was always open to new learnings, opportunities, and experiences at the University of Minnesota. She would lead by example and with a sense of purpose.” Her coordinator, Sherry Gray also comments that Smith’s high energy and passion for her field of disability studies infected everyone while she was at Minnesota.

Smith speaks very highly of her time spent in the U.S., citing that networking opportunities and access to research and writing tools gave her a great career boost. Smith credits the Humphrey program as part of her current successes. She says, “I will bring change to my work, my university of the Free State, city, country, continent and the world, because the Hubert H. [Humphrey] Fellowship gave me the capacity for greatness.”

Smith’s positive attitude, her perseverance and discipline, and her sense of purpose contributed to making her a successful Humphrey fellow. She focused on taking advantage of every opportunity while she was here, not complaining or focusing on negatives, and she was always willing to contribute to her cohort and to the program. Her advice to current Humphrey fellows just starting their year:

“Participate in all the activities offered by the HHH Program

Be ‘hungry’ for information to [have] a better understanding of US politics, economic, American culture and social issues.

Learn from other fellows regarding their views, habits, health services, the political, economic, social and technological situation in their countries.”

Smith was recently accepted into the Golden Key National Honor Society, an exclusive academic network that honors top performing graduate students. This honor only applies to the top 15% of college and university students worldwide, as well as top-performing graduate students based on their academic achievements. Other Golden Key members include Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel, and Bill Clinton. The pillars of Golden Key Honor Society are academics, leadership, and service. Smith portrays each of these qualities, both as a Humphrey Fellow and now in her research in South Africa.

Currently a medical-social researcher at the University of the Free State in the Republic of South Africa, Smith’s research compares the cost effectiveness of rehabilitation programs for persons with deafness and hearing loss making it possible for more people to have access to a wider array of rehabilitation options. Smith holds a doctoral degree in development studies, a Master degree in Governance and Political Transformation, and a Master degree in development studies, all from the University of the Free State. She also is a member of the Voices of Change Project, a publication dedicated to transforming perception to provide better opportunities for citizens with disabilities in South Africa.

In the photo, Magteld is seen at her induction into the Golden Key National Honor Society.