Local to become first female marine engineer


20 July 2018 | People

Leandrea Louw

Ashlynn Zoe Paulse (25), originally from Narraville, Walvis Bay, is in her final year studying marine engineering in Vigo, Spain.

Upon her return to Namibia after her studies she will be the first ever female marine engineer.

“I grew up in Narraville and when I turned 12 we moved to Spain. It was very hard for me. I needed to learn a new language, a new culture and a new school system.

“At times I was so sad and couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I was halfway around the world. It took us about three years to finally fit in. However my mother, Carmen, was the one who motivated us, taught us and talked us through the challenges.

“When I completed my final year of high school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. My father is an engineer, so I thought to myself, why not? I talked to him about it, but he didn’t want to hear anything about me becoming an engineer. He told me my life will be devoted to my work.

“I then decided to study administration, but it just didn’t feel right and I knew I had to make a change. After about a year, I applied to the Maritime School in Vigo. Later on I went to Germany to do vocational training, and while I was there I was accepted into the Maritime School, and in 2014 I started with my first year.”

“I was very excited and although my dad was sceptical at first he was extremely proud of me. At first everything was strange and difficult but I told myself nobody is going to put bread on your table and nothing in life is free.

“I passed my first two years with flying colours, but I had to find a job to do my practical. I applied for a job at Tunacor to do my year at sea, and in September 2016 I sailed with the Oshakati. This was also the same boat my father had worked on and I slept in his cabin as well.

“After my graduation I will be fully qualified in accordance with the provision of regulation II/5 STCW F convention as a chief engineer of vessels up to 3 000 kilowatt, and first engineer of fishing vessels, unlimited.

“We started the year being only two girls in the class. This means you have to study harder, just to be on the same level, or better than the guys. Some of them are openly jealous and hostile towards you. I still get negative comments like: What are you doing studying marine engineering, what are you doing on a boat, go study something else. This only motivates me more.”

Paulse explained after her first two years she wasn’t sure if she should continue studying. “I decided to go to sea, to see if this was really meant for me. During the year at sea, I realised that this is exactly where I want to be.”

Being Afrikaans speaking she had to learn Spanish, which was required by the primary and secondary school.

“I now speak and write Spanish fluently. I also fund the additional costs of my studies by teaching others English.”

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