Bursary Case Study #2 – Lungelwa Mkokeli

Lungelwa Mkokeli was born in the Eastern Cape in 1992. She grew up as one of seven children, all raised by her hard-working mother who had only the help of national child support grants. Despite the difficult living conditions Lungelwa performed well in school, but her mother knew her educational options would be limited at her rural school. In 2005, her mother sent her to live with her uncle in Masiphumelele, where Lungelwa could attend the local high school.

It was a difficult time for Lungelwa, away from her siblings for the first time in her life and living in a simple shack with an uncle she did not know well. The level of crime and lack of space in the dense urban community was very different from her rural home. Despite these difficulties, she settled into her new school quickly and continued to excel at most subjects. She developed a keen interest in economics and business studies – subjects that were not available in her school in the Eastern Cape.

In 2010, Lungelwa completed high school. She had visited CPUT and UWC for career exhibitions and had begun to think seriously about the possibility of higher education. She knew of Masicorp from the establishment of the Masiphumelele library and the construction of several houses in the community. When advised by a friend that there was the possibility of a university bursary through Masicorp, she immediately applied. She briefly considered studying to be a teacher in order to give back to the local children, but ultimately her dreams lay in financial management and business studies.

Lungelwa was offered a place at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) to study for a National Diploma in Management in the Faculty of Business. After impressing us with her commitment to study, Masicorp accepted her onto the bursary programme. Once again it was a difficult transition to live away from home in student residences, and she regularly returned to Masiphumelele to visit her uncle. Her studies never suffered and she passed each examination. She even found time to be house committee representative for her residence during her second and third year of study.

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We were delighted when Lungelwa graduated in 2012 and equally happy in March of this year when she secured employment with a financial company in Cape Town. She still lives with her uncle in Masiphumelele and remains a good friend of Masicorp. Eager to give back to the programme that has helped her succeed at university, she has kindly offered to use her financial expertise to manage our bursary loan book on a voluntary basis. Lungelwa has been remarkably successful and we are so pleased to have her helping our bursary team.

Bursary Case Study #1 – Olwethu Mlaza

In 2006, Masicorp had not yet considered supporting students with university level education. That all changed one afternoon when Olwethu Mlaza tapped Masicorp volunteer Jill Stirrup on the shoulder and asked her for help getting to university. Having achieved good grades in mathematics, Olwethu was keen to apply his technical mind to engineering. What followed was a learning experience for Masicorp, as we began to establish a programme that would see Olwethu become our first ever bursary student and our first graduate.

olwethuAt the time, Olwethu lived with his family in Philippi on the Cape Flats. His mother was instrumental in sending him to school in Masiphumelele after becoming frustrated at the poor quality of schooling in Philippi. It was a brave decision given the complicated journey. Every day Olwethu began his commute by waking at 04.00 hrs to catch the first of two trains into Cape Town and then out of the city south toward Masiphumelele. On a good day it was at least a two-hour journey each way. Ever the resourceful student, Olwethu could often be seen on crowded trains solving maths problems with his textbooks on his lap.

In 2006, Olwethu began a National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). He balanced his studies with part-time work for the Bicycle Empowerment Network (BEN) and the Table Mountain Cable Car, but still managed successfully to work his way through the course. Some aspects of the course were difficult, with subjects such as electrical engineering being completely new to him and very difficult for all students.

In 2010, Olwethu passed his final six modules (some with distinction) and graduated with a B. Tech. Mechanical Engineering. He found work very quickly, and now works with a specialist engineering company in the fishing industry in Hout Bay. He remains employed, despite the recent economic downturn, and is now married with young children and living in the Pinelands suburb of the city. Olwethu encouraged his younger brother Mihlali to continue his studies by applying to Masicorp. Mihlali obtained a diploma at CPUT last year and is now close to completing a Bsc honours course in Biotechnology at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). Olwethu remains an inspiration to his family and all of us at Masicorp. He encouraged us to set up this valuable programme and demonstrated how it can lead to dramatic improvements in the lives of its participants.

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