A World Away

Boitshoko Phalatse, BSBA ’08, MBA ’18, has been racking up the miles between Boston and her home in South Africa.

It’s not because she’s homesick or weary of the long New England winters. She’s the founder and director of the Tsosoloso Programme, a nonprofit based in Pretoria that distributes bilingual educational material to underdeveloped and rural communities. The program aims to teach children in their mother tongue and in English, which research has shown helps them learn better. Building the success of the nonprofit is her primary goal.

While doing that, she’s also been studying full-time at the Sawyer Business School to earn her Master’s in Business Administration with a specialization in the nonprofit space. It might seem extra challenging to run an organization from six time zones away. But for Phalatse, being in Boston has actually added to Tsosoloso’s success.

“Boston is very big when it comes to nonprofits and innovation centers. So the point of coming back here was to be exposed to that wider network,” says Phalatse. “While it’s hard running the nonprofit all the way from here, the progress we’ve made over the past 18 months is much greater through my being in Boston, especially compared to the first two years I was running it from South Africa.”

Phalatse credits a lot of that success not only to the nonprofit ecosystem of Boston but also to Suffolk University in particular. Having earned her BSBA here, she knew the kind of support system that the University can offer, which made it easier to be 7,800 miles away.

“You want to be part of an institution that’s not just supporting you during your MBA program but also fosters strong bonds and collaborates with you even beyond your program,” says Phalatse.

Some of Phalatse’s cohort will be going to Fortune 500 companies or joining start-ups. But the program’s nonprofit track is just as important when it comes to learning how to run an organization. And it takes just as much—if not more—commitment.

“There are so many times that I’ve questioned my decision to focus on a nonprofit,” Phalatse says. “But what may seem like a challenge, I see as an opportunity to be involved in something bigger than myself.” 

Boitshoko Phalatse
Boitshoko Phalatse is the graduate student speaker at Commencement 2018.

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