After a stringent selection and interview process, five deserving youngsters from the Govan Mbeki municipality have been given all-expenses-paid scholarships, valued at R170 000 each, by the Southern Highveld Community Development Trust (SHCDT), a community social investment initiative of Graceland Hotel Casino & Country Club in Secunda to follow their dreams of obtaining a tertiary education.
The group recently travelled to Emperors Palace to attend an induction function and receive their official scholarship letters, much to their delight.
Top learner among the candidates, Nhlakanipho Mngomezulu, who obtained three distinctions when he matriculated from Vukuqhakaze Secondary School at the end of last year, is off to the University of the Witwatersrand to study for his BSc in Electrical Engineering degree.
The 17-year-old, who is one of 10 children, says he chose to study electrical engineering because it is a very broad course comprising of many disciplines and believes he will get exposed to ample opportunities.
When quizzed at the induction event what this scholarship means to him, he commented, “With this bursary, I’ll be able to fully focus on my studies and not worry about finances, so I have no reason to fail and my Mom still can’t believe that she won’t pay a cent towards my studies. It feels great to be granted such an opportunity!”
These feelings were reiterated by Chief Ampie Mayisa Secondary School matriculant, Philisiwe Mayaba (18) who added it (the scholarship) means a lot to her family and she can’t believe it is happening – that she has a fully-funded scholarship to start her BCom Economics and Management Sciences degree studies at the University of Pretoria.
The Leandra youngster, who achieved one distinction in her matric year, then went on to give her reasons for choosing her field of study. “Due to our economy, there is a shortage of resources which prompted me to follow this career path as I want to use research and data analysis to find innovative ways to improve the economy.”
Another of the scholarship recipients who have also selected a career path in which she can contribute to change in society is Thomas Nhlabathi Secondary School matriculant, Asakhanya Maseti (18).
“I’ve chosen to study a BSc in Nursing at the University of Limpopo because I have the passion and love to bring about the change I want to see in healthcare,” says the eMbalenhle resident who lists her attributes as being dedicated, responsible, ambitious and determined, which will certainly stand her in good stead in making a success of her career.
Fellow Thomas Nhlabathi Secondary School matriculant, Angel Phakathi, who also obtained two distinctions last year like Maseti, is off to study LLB Law at the University of KwaZulu Natal thanks to the SHCDT.
“When they informed me that I got the bursary I was so excited because I knew that it was the beginning of my life, while for my family it means everything as they know that I will start this year smoothly and will be mentally fit to study,” the 18-year-old from Kinross commented after getting her scholarship letter.
The goal-driven go-getter, who believes in hard-work has her sights set on fighting gender-based violence and woman and child abuse by becoming a human rights lawyer after her degree.
The fifth recipient, KI Twala Secondary School matriculant Ellen Maseko, feels blessed that she has been included in the SHCDT programme and can now head to Sol Plaatje University to do a BSc Data Science degree without any financial concerns for her or her family.
Being motivated, driven, confident and enjoying challenges the eMbalenhle student says she was inspired to choose this career because there is a demand for people with data science skills and the pay is good.
Apart from having their tuition and accommodation expenses covered, getting their books and a laptop sponsored, the Trust also provides a comprehensive mentorship programme for scholarship recipients to enable them to cope and develop new skills during their time at university. The programme covers study skills, emotional intelligence and employability. Monthly mentorship meetings are also held with the students to ensure that they receive the much-needed socio-psychological support required.
“Over the years we have found that we are able to increase our graduation rate by offering learners additional support throughout the year. To this end the Trust has an impressive 85% graduation rate compared to the national graduation rate of 22%. This is exceptional considering that the learners hail from township schools,” comments Trust Manager, Jenny Findlay.
Apart from the university scholarships, the SHCDT bestows every year to help uplift the community in the Graceland catchment area it (the Trust) also provides the “Go-Getters Programme”. The latter was established to ensure there is a large pool of deserving young people available to benefit from the scholarship offering and improve the chances of learners successfully completing their tertiary studies and becoming economically productive.
In addition, the Trustees fund “Career Dress Up Day” every year where Grade 7 learners research, present and dress up in their chosen career. The day assists learners to make better career choices. The Trust also sponsors an intern programme giving selected young people, from the local TVET Collage, an opportunity to complete the practical component of their qualification.