Three undergraduate students from the College of Humanities are over the moon after receiving this year’s coveted College Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship.
The students are Ms Tasmiyah Oumar, Ms Avuya Ngcaweni and Ms Jade Moodley.
Oumar, a Psychology student, was ecstatic saying, ‘I’m still in shock. I honestly didn’t think I would make it this far. My first year of high school began as a home-schooled student. Nobody could ask for a better teacher than their mother. But as the academic intensity was increasing, we decided that it may be better to attend a mainstream institution, Maritzburg Muslim School for Girls and then Nizamia Islamic School.’ Attending high school was challenging for Oumar but she prevailed. ‘Anxiety and other mental illnesses seem trivial to many and unfortunately, we don’t understand just how debilitating they can be. But with the help of the Almighty, I made it through each year, and because of this, my every achievement, be it big or small, is valued greatly,’ she said. Oumar plans to pursue her postgraduate studies in Psychology, saying, ‘Whilst this is not an easy path, it is something I’ve aspired towards as I feel the need not only to help others, but to create more awareness about mental health especially to rural communities. I pray and hope I can give back to the less fortunate’.
Music student, Ngcaweni, is also thrilled to receive the scholarship. ‘I feel very happy. This has inspired me to work harder. It has also proven many people- who said that said I won’t make it- wrong. It means that my family will not pay a cent. It means that my mother, who is a single parent, will never have to worry about my fees. It gives me great joy to see my mother this happy. This scholarship is everything,’ she said with joy.
While a learner at Umlazi Secondary school, Ngcaweni got to perform with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra (KZNPO) at the age of 15; landing her three more performances with them. ‘I was also doing well in my studies so my teachers and mom supported me,’ she said. In the next five years, Ngcaweni plans to be the youngest opera performer with an Honours, Master’s and PhD degree. ‘I want to hold masterclasses encouraging young minds to work for what they want because nothing comes without hard work. I want by then to have at least three foundations sponsoring children who work hard but do not have financial aid or any assistance,’ she said.
Social Sciences student Moodley was also overjoyed saying, ‘The feeling is indescribable in knowing that I am recognised as a student with potential.’ Moodley grew up in a single-income household in which it was often a battle to pay for school fees every year. During vacation breaks, she worked at Barons Volkswagen, taking customer service calls so she could contribute towards paying for her studies. ‘All hopes and aspirations were not lost. I believed that someday something marvellous would happen in my life,’ she said. Moodley’s family is also proud of her and sees her achievements as a blessing. ‘It is much more than my family could have anticipated for. In our many talks of one day having a financial door open for me, even if it meant a student loan, we never realised that I would achieve much more than envisaged. A scholarship! Something that does not come easily,’ she added.
Moodley attended Heather Secondary School in Pietermaritzburg where she excelled academically. Her passion for science and the environment saw her place second in the school’s Science and Environmental Week competition, as well as representing the school in the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) Mini Model United Nations Conference. She also participated in the SAIIA Rhino Poaching Debate and was a school Blood Representative for the South African National Blood Services (SANBS).
The students are grateful for the scholarship and thanked the funders. They plan to pursue their dreams and one day be agents of change in their respective communities.
Photographer: Melissa Mungroo