Yanga Mdleleni grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. The maternal side of her family hails from the Eastern Cape province, where she would frequently visit and, in so doing, noticed a trend in the burden of disease - specifically Malaria, HIV/AIDS and TB - escalating unemployment rates, high numbers of uneducated youth in townships and rural communities, as well as an uninformed and ignorant youth. This encouraged her to pursue a career in science, in order to help eradicate such problems in her community, to be a voice and example for the youth to take charge of their lives and take better care of their health. “My mother always emphasised the importance of education and using it to assist and elevate others,” she says. Mdleleni drew inspiration from her mother; a selfless, single and independent parent, who always made sure that she helped others with whatever she had. Mdleleni hopes to do the same in order to bring forth a positive change, not only in her community, but in the rest of our continent and the world through education and innovative research. With this in mind, she has completed a BSc double-major in microbiology and cell biology, an Honours degree in molecular genetics and a Master of Science degree (Cum Laude) in parasite immunology, assessing chemokine response in animal models co-infected with Plasmodium berghei and Trichinella zimbabwensis. With the aim of bringing forth solutions to some of Africa’s life-threatening diseases, her PhD is focused on assessing the Burden of HPV infection and HPV-related conditions among key population in KZN and its implications during the era of HIV epidemic.