Recipients are: Mr Simo Cele, Ms Caitlin de Waal, Ms Phakamile Mazibuko, Ms Khulelaphi Mdluli, Ms Catherine Muyonjo, Ms Nothando Pahla and Mr Shaylen Naidoo.
All the students, many of whom had been struggling with financial difficulties, were thrilled to hear they were scholarship winners.
The scholarship is a dream come true for teacher Muyonjo. ‘I was raised by a single mother and I am so glad that she no longer has to worry about my varsity fees. I have three sisters and we all depend on her. This is such a weight off our shoulders.’
Muyonjo battled depression and suffered discrimination from fellow students. ‘I was born in South Africa but my parents are from Uganda,’ she said. ‘I always felt that I did not belong and this upset me so much. In the house I was renting there were people who would not talk to me for weeks. It was challenging but I knew my purpose and I did not let a negative atmosphere hinder my academic progress.’
Muyonjo is now part of the UMTAPO Student Movement which aims at educating the youth about social issues, a member of the Golden Key International Society and is involved in charity work with St Anthony’s Church.
Naidoo says the scholarship assists transformation, emancipation and empowerment. During his matric year at Apollo Secondary School in Chatsworth, his father died resulting in financial difficulties for the family. Naidoo also had to cope with domestic violence and poverty in his neighbourhood.
He says his life as a student was bitter-sweet. He never had extra money to buy clothing and other accessories that most students he knew had. He was once robbed off his cellphone, bag and watch while waiting for a bus. ‘My home was quite a distance from the bus route and I remember days in which I walked in torrential rain which damaged my course notes.’
Naidoo, who says he relied on the kindness of family and friends during his studies, plans to do his PhD in Transdisciplinarity and Integrative Social Science Education, aiming to one day lecture at the University.
Port Shepstone resident Cele identifies studying without funding as highly stressful. ‘You don’t know whether you will make it through to the following year, you are stuck with the same diet for the rest of the year and you are just not at ease.’
The scholarship has freed Cele financially and allowed him to enjoy his studies and the entire experience of being a student. Armed with a passion for writing, Cele will delve into development studies, focussing on organisations driven by creating spaces for growth for South African communities. ‘I’m interested in coming up with ideas that are people- centred and that will create employment, business opportunities and the personal development of individuals within society.’
Education student de Waal says the scholarship had assisted her financially. ‘I believe it will open many doors. Scholarships afford students of every background the opportunity to have hope, which is what a lot of young people lack today.’
De Waal is passionate about education and teaching. ‘Imparting knowledge to younger individuals has been a passion of mine from a young age. I believe it runs in my blood. I come from a very long line of teachers on both sides of my family. We call it the family business.’ She plans to follow in the footsteps of her family members, in addition to attaining a masters and a PhD.
Education student Mazibuko sees herself as free of the financial shackles linked to her studies and being an inspiration to her younger siblings to strive for excellence through hard work and determination. ‘To achieve and maintain excellence is not an easy task. It is a lonely, tiring and draining journey. But the values of commitment, hard work and consistency have kept me going on good and bad days.’
She aims to complete her master’s and PhD degrees, eventually opening up the Phakamile Mazibuko Foundation to collaborate with various organisations to develop broad community engagement projects to improve the lives of people, especially women in rural areas.
Mdluli says she will use the scholarship money to pay for her tuition and residence fees. ‘I come from an impoverished background. This scholarship has reduced my stress levels. I can now focus on improving academically and get my masters and PhD.’ She thanked the scholarship donors and her family and friends for their support.