Above: (L-R) Thabisile, Jabu, Gugu and Dudu. Image credit: Ryan Sobey
We were fortunate enough to spend the morning with a few of the Let’s Build Our Country Fund (LBOC) bursary beneficiaries, at a Women’s Day celebration hosted by LBOC. We chatted to Duduzile (Dudu) Khumalo, Gugu Mkhonto, Thabisile Khumalo and Jabulile Radebe.
How did you hear about Let’s Build Our Country Fund (LBOC)’s bursary programme?
Dudu: My sister was studying accounting, and someone referred her to the LBOC. She had already completed her studies, so she didn’t need funding, but she referred me to them.
Jabu: I saw a notice at my school, that the SRC had organised an event about bursaries. At the event, Miss Penny (Mpanza) encouraged us to apply for bursaries – little did she know that we weren’t future engineering students. I thought this might disqualify me but I still went to chat and she said that I should apply.
Thabisile: I’d been at UJ for a year, but then had to drop out due to a shortage of funding. I’m from a remote area in the Orange Free State called QwaQwa, but there was an organisation there that referred me to LBOC. I’d sort of given up, but while I was at home in QwaQwa, I went with a friend who went to apply for varsity and got asked why I wasn’t applying for varsity, because my marks had been good. So I went ahead and applied for funding.
Gugu: I heard about LBOC from my former high school. Because I was an academic student, they asked me if I’d applied for the next year. The receptionist encouraged me to apply for the LBOC, so that’s what I did.
Why did you choose to study what you’re studying?
Dudu: We did Economic and Management Sciences in Grade 9, and I found the accounting part quite interesting. When I went on to Grade 10, my accounting teacher played a big role in my love for accounting. That’s how I ended up doing accounting – it’s fun.
Jabu: I hadn’t planned on studying Diagnostic Radiography. I actually wanted to study Medicine, until I did some orientation at our local hospital but didn’t enjoy it that much. I found out about Diagnostic Radiography when my mother was diagnosed with stage two cervical cancer, and I had to take her to the hospital. I decided that in order to honour my mom, and help other black women as there isn’t much awareness of pathology in black communities, I would study Diagnostic Radiography.
Thabisile: Transnet has a Foundation which facilitated classes on the weekends, which I attended. There was a competition between the schools, and our school won staff offices. While these offices were being constructed, I was watching them digging. Instead of just opening a foundation, they started digging out the soil and going much deeper. I was curious about why they were doing things in this way – so I went to the contractor and asked them why. He told me he was a Geotechnical Engineer, and to make the building sustainable, they had to replace clay soil with more sustainable soil. That sparked my interest in engineering.
Jabu: I’m really into events. I’ve been planning events since high school. I’m also really into social media and writing, which are also incorporated into PR.
What are your dreams for the future?
Thabisile: I really want to go to Harvard or Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and do my MBA, or Masters in Civil Engineering.
Jabu: I’d really like to travel the world to see how they practice PR in different countries. In South Africa, they copy a lot of other countries, but a new African way of doing things is starting to develop and I’d love to be able to add to this by seeing how other countries do things.
Gugu: I’d really like to start my own radiological department, preferably an NGO, in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga (which is where I’m originally from) to give back to the community and possibly inspire others to study what I’m studying. By starting something as a woman, I’d be inspiring other women in that area to dream big.
Dudu: I recently applied for a year-long exchange programme in South Korea, which I’m going to attend next year in August. I’m even learning the language.
What advice would you give to a high school student planning their future?
Jabu: I always tell people to get involved. Check the school notice board and see what’s happening, watch out for things on social media. If someone posts something positive on social media, inbox them and ask – ask, ask, ask!
Thabisile: I’d advise a Grade 12 learner to take their time. If you put a lot of pressure on yourself and rush things, you might choose the wrong career for yourself. Do a lot of research on the career you want to choose – it’s your life. Know everything about what you choose before going for it.
Gugu: Learners should expand on how they think, and be open to change. Another opportunity may present itself, so you should be open-minded if it comes along.
Dudu: Make yourself available to stuff – go to different places, attend events. There’s so much more out there than what you think is available to you when you’re in high school.