Zakia Salod is a young, dynamic polymath from South Africa. She is a Software Developer, Medical Scientist, Data Scientist, Researcher, Author, Artist, and a Philanthropist. So far, her entire 31 years of life have been spent in educational pursuits, working, religious activities, and volunteering.
Zakia achieved her Master’s in Medical Science (MMedSc) Medical Informatics degree, including merit awards from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in 2020. She also has a BCom Honours Information Systems and Technology and a BSc Computer Science and Information Technology degree from the same university. She was awarded the ‘Best Honours Student for 2011’ and the ‘Best Research Student for 2011’ for her Honours degree in
2011 from both UKZN Westville and Pietermaritzburg campuses. In 2011, the Golden Key International Honour society awarded Zakia as a member. This global society awards membership by invite only and recognizes the top 15% of students at their department at university worldwide. Zakia achieved an overall distinction pass, second position overall, and first position for her course in Matric at Verulam Islamic School in 2007.
She was awarded the ‘Good Fellowship’ award in Matric, and she was also the Deputy Head Prefect of her school and Vice-Captain for her sports team in the same year. During her high school years leading up to Matric, Zakia partook in the Services SETA School Pre-learnership program. She studied different subjects, which involved assignments, as part of this program in addition to schoolwork. SETA was impressed with Zakia’s portfolio of evidence (POE) and used it as an exemplar for 50 schools in South Africa.
Zakia’s Master’s dissertation was entitled, ‘Breast Cancer Prediction using Machine Learning and Anthropometric Blood Analysis Data: A First-Step Towards the Early Screening and Detection of Breast Cancer in Patients.’ The following are Zakia’s publications from her Master’s study: (1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6902303/ and (2)
Zakia has been a volunteer for the Cupcakes of Hope national non-profit (NPO) organization in South Africa since 2014. She bakes cupcakes and raises funds for kids with cancer in South Africa as part of this NPO. Over the years, Zakia has also supported the Feedy Needy NPO during their initiatives like the orphan fun day and Ramadaan. Zakia was a volunteer for the Africa Teen Geeks NPO in 2018. In this role, she taught disadvantaged kids from KwaZulu- Natal at UNISA Durban how to code. Zakia assisted UKZN with the CUPPA for CANSA event for raising funds for breast cancer in 2018. She is also a peer reviewer for medical journals. Zakia’s numerous awards include having achieved the first position for two regional Art competitions during her
childhood at school: (1) 10 years of democracy hosted by the Phoenix Teacher’s Association, broadcasted on television in 2004; and (2) Keep Verulam Beautiful Association in 2003. Zakia also won the first position in the age group 22 years and above for an international Art competition in 2015, hosted by the Ansari Youth Club (AYC) in conjunction with the Centre for Fine Art, Animation, and Design (CFAD). Zakia was then featured as a guest and interviewed live on-air on Radio Al Ansaar as part of AYC. She was also the recipient of the ‘Great Strides Award’ at 2Cana Solutions
during her role as Software Developer in 2013. She is an Oracle certified professional since 2014. Zakia was also the only shortlisted person from KwaZulu-Natal as the ‘Top 20 Finalist in South Africa’ for a hackathon hosted by Digital McKinsey and Facebook in 2017. Her team then won the first position for this South African hackathon (‘Future- Hack’) hosted in Johannesburg. Subsequently, she attended the international Facebook F8 conference in San Jose,
California, USA, in 2018, as part of the win. Zakia also participated at the international global developer day at Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park, California, USA, during this trip. In 2019, Zakia was one of the ‘Top 15 Young Geeks in South Africa 2019’ recognized by Geekulcha. She was also the ‘Professional Achiever of the Year in South Africa 2019’ by the Minara Chamber of Commerce. Zakia was a selected Deep Learning Indaba X conference attendee in 2019.
Zakia’s motivation and drive stems from her belief and love for The Almighty Allah and her role model of life: Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). She aims to fulfill her Calling in Life, using her polymath nature, make a difference in this world and please her most beloved Creator and role model of life (Peace Be Upon Him). Her motto in life is: “Indeed, my prayers, my sacrifice, my life, and my death are all for The Almighty Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.” ~ (Quraan 6:162).
Her advice to everyone is: ‘Do what you love, love what you do. Always try to discover your Calling in Life and pursue it. Never give up, no matter what. You have a Divine Purpose to fulfill in this world that is unique to you. Finally, always walk with The most beloved Almighty and put Him first in everything you do.’