Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University | | NMMU

“HOW will you use your knowledge to make the world a better place?”

That was the challenge Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) Vice-Chancellor Prof Derrick Swartz put to the university’s top-achieving students, at a breakfast last week (30 October) celebrating five years of the prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship (VCS).  The event also saw the launch of the VCS Alumni Chapter and the hand-over of a washing machine and gifts of shoes to Lukhanyiso Children’s Home, which is supported by VCS recipients.

Over the past five years, 80 top matriculants have been awarded the scholarship, which pays out R75 600 for each year of study of an undergraduate degree, provided recipients achieve first-class passes. The VC’s Scholars, as recipients are known, are also groomed as future leaders through a mentorship and leadership programme run by NMMU.

Swartz challenged the VC’s Scholars to think beyond their own career and personal goals to see how they can address national and world issues like poverty, unemployment, violence and crime.

“What are you going to use this knowledge for? There is more to this journey of life than ‘me and my own interests’. There is something greater about why we are living, a greater purpose. I want you to think individually about that greater purpose you want to serve.

“We live in a society where there is violence, poverty – violence against kids. There must be something wrong, which we have to fix. We need people who will fix it, people like you … We need to create a more equal, more just, more inclusive world.”

“You need to ask yourself: What is the purpose of my knowledge if I can’t put it to use for good?”

Swartz then opened the floor for students to share how they were going to use their knowledge to change the world. Among those who responded was third-year BCom Chartered Accountancy student Bongeka Mbonisweni, who said she had developed a passion to “empower young black girls” from very rural areas, paving the way for them to “come through and contribute” as leaders in society, while first-year LLB student Chante Baatjes said she intended to join the United Nations to “bring an end to human rights violations and war crimes”.

Education’s fourth-year student Anika Botha said: “I want to use my degree to somehow eliminate the fear learners have for maths, and build confidence in my learners the way this programme has built confidence in me.”

Final year LLB student Adrian van Wyk spoke about the butterfly effect and how small changes can have great effects. “If one wants to live the value of humility, without having the pressure to … lead the world, do something small or special that has great effect.”

Elize Naude, coordinator of the VCS mentoring and leadership programme, who handed over to Prof Swartz a publication profiling all the current VC’s Scholars, said: “It is crucial that we augment the technical competencies of our students with personal and professional leadership growth. NMMU wishes to prepare students ‘for work and for life’. Listening to the dreams and aspirations of these students, one is inspired by the results of this programme. These scholars represent the positive future of South Africa.”

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University | NMMU |

CELEBRATING EXCELLENCE … Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) Vice-Chancellor Prof Derrick Swartz (back, middle) with Elize Naude (front, left), coordinator of the Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship mentorship and leadership programme, celebrate five years of the scholarship with a recipient from each of the past five years (back, from left) second-year LLB student Xhanti Mtulu,  BCom Hons graduate Timothy Olls, one of the first recipients and now a trainee at PwC, and (front, from left) first-year BSc student Kalyn Beach, third-year BCom (Chartered Accountancy) student Bongeka Mbonisweni and fourth-year BPsych student Rachael Williams

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