Growing up within a family of healthcare professionals, Muhammad has always been interested in health and the workings of the brain, which is what drove her to choose majors – psychology and linguistics – within the field of cognitive science. “I love learning, which is what makes studying less daunting,” she said.
Her achievements include receiving Dean’s Commendations and Merit Certificates for achieving the highest marks in certain modules every semester since the beginning of her degree and being part of the Golden Key International Honours Society.
“Even though I am one of the top performers in my degree, it doesn’t mean I don’t experience my own share of anxiety – worrying about whether I’d pass a module or not. I also faced a few health issues but with the grace of the Almighty and a strong support system of family and close friends, I managed to overcome these difficulties.”
Muhammad plans to pursue postgraduate studies, focusing on the field of psycholinguistics and to eventually take on research on communicative deficits within individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism.
Maphumulo, on the other hand, went against her father’s wishes for her to study law and instead followed her passion and took on African Music and Dance (AMD).
She sees the scholarship as freedom from her financial burdens with her father now able to provide more for the family without worrying about her fees. “This bursary means a lot to me and my family – my father is the only breadwinner and he’s had to pay my varsity fees and also take care of my seven younger siblings.”
The scholarship will assist Maphumulo with her postgraduate studies and allow her to focus on opening her own company/academy for young children from impoverished township backgrounds, exposing them to Art and the career possibilities and societal change it provides.
Chauque says her family cried when they heard she got the scholarship. “I think they were tears of joy as they all knew how hard I had worked regardless of the challenges we faced together. My mother once said to me: ‘Life is like a climb, once you reach the top of one mountain you realise they are more mountains to climb. You just keep climbing and keep going’,” she said.
Chauque chose her course based on her love for people and understanding their behaviour and thoughts. She also has an interest in counselling, and assessing and treating mental, emotional and behavioural disorders. “I am impressed by the use of the science of psychology to solve or treat complex human problems and promote change and resilience.”
She is working towards becoming a registered clinical psychologist and wants to put her skills to good use through community engagement. “It’s not about getting a degree but what you do with it after you get it. I believe we are enlightened so that we can do the same for others.”