Raftery said she was thrilled to receive the scholarship awarded for her academic excellence. ‘I have two younger siblings and the cost of my tertiary education has been something my family has struggled with. Winning this scholarship means I can independently fund my studies next year, relieving part of the burden on my parents and family who have supported me from the beginning.’
Raftery, who attended St Henry’s Marist College in Durban, was ranked in the top 1% of candidates in English in her matric year by the Independent Examinations Board (IEB).
Raftery came into her own academically at UKZN. ‘I’ve loved the way that doing a BA at UKZN allows you to structure your own degree and pursue things that you are passionate about. For my first two years, I was majoring in English and Psychology, but did a few classical civilisation modules, and realised how fascinating I found the ancient world, especially mythology and the stories developed by different cultures.’
Raftery currently works as a debating coach and tutor, and volunteers with an education based NGO that works with schools in the Cato Manor area. ‘I’m passionate about education as a tool for development and transformation,’ she says.
Raftery plans to pursue postgraduate studies all the way to a PhD. ‘My plan is to end up lecturing English at a university. I feel like that would allow me to combine my love for education and independent research. Right now, I’m working on my research interests – I appreciate the broad scope and balance of texts and theory in the UKZN English programme.’
She advises students to believe in themselves and in their capabilities, and to make use of the resources the University provides. ‘There’s an abundance of academic and physical and mental health resources, and not enough people take advantage of that. Your tutors, lecturers, ADOs are all there to help you. If you’re struggling, whether personally or academically, you’re not alone.’
She thanked her family, friends and lecturers for being her support system.