Three students from the College of Humanities, Ms Lerato Sokhulu, Ms Cleopatra Mabaso and Ms Ayanda Tshazi, were recently awarded the Talent Equity and Excellence Acceleration Scholarship.
This scholarship is awarded to students intending to pursue an academic career at UKZN. This prestigious award, derived from the University’s own funds, enables UKZN to identify potential top academic talent to grow the next generation of academics.
The students were both overjoyed and excited to be receiving the scholarship and were keen to continue excelling academically.
Sokhulu, Master’s in Education student said, ‘It has always been my dream to pursue the world of academia and obtain a doctoral degree in education with the hope of being a valuable member of the UKZN academic team.’ She attended Durban Girls’ Secondary School where she excelled academically but also challenged herself in various leadership roles. UKZN was always Sokhulu’s first choice. ‘UKZN is well known for excelling in research related rankings. That alone makes it a unique university to study at. My love for research and lecturing grew enormously while at the University. It was then that I realised where I belonged,’ she said.
For Mabaso, the scholarship will assist her financially and in turn has opened numerous avenues to explore academically. ‘These scholarships are important as they motivate students to strive for excellence throughout the course of their studies. I now have a responsibility to serve as a team player within the UKZN family and the academia,’ she said.
Mabaso values excellence and chose UKZN for its stellar research rankings. ‘I see myself as a member of the UKZN academic staff; contributing in research and playing a role in empowering UKZN students, community and academia amongst others while in a quest to develop and get empowered,’ she said.
Faith, determination, focus and hard work yield success,’ she advised fellow students.
Tshazi sees the scholarship as the beginning of her career as an aspiring academic. ‘This scholarship means that I can focus on my research without many external pressures which will be a big relief for my family as well. We are all so proud and excited,’ she said.
She is currently completing her Master’s degree in Development Studies after a 10-year hiatus; receiving merits for two out of the three modules she did last year. ‘This was a huge affirmation for me that I am in the right place, doing the right thing,’ said Tshazi. Coming back to the University as an older student and after a long time was daunting and at times, leaving her feeling alienated. ‘I have family commitments while many of my peers are younger students living on campus. It took a while and a concerted effort for me to forge relationships and build a support network with colleagues who share my passion for achieving academic excellence. Financial difficulties were also a real threat,’ she added.
Asked about her future plans, Tshazi said, ‘In the next five years, I will be completing my PhD. I have a wide range of interests that I would like to publish papers on, including reflective research and mainstreaming indigenous knowledge systems as part of the decolonial project. In ten years’ time, I hope to be a productive academic writer; contributing to teaching and writing about responsible tourism in South Africa and Africa,’ she said.
Humanities students Ms Ayanda Tshazi, Ms Cleopatra Mabaso and Ms Lerato Sokhulu were awarded the Talent Equity and Excellence Acceleration Scholarship.
Photographs: Rajesh Jantilal; Melissa Mungroo