Scholarship programs play a pivotal role in changing lives while giving hope and opportunity to life imagined.

Bureau Veritas is one company that has decided to make this most important investment. Through their scholarship program known as Ithemb a Trust, two first-year university students can dream again. From our conversation with these students, we can tell that Bureau Veritas has selected a good soil to plant a seed of hope!

Sanelisiwe Mabaso and Keletso Mokoena attended the same school in Standerton, in the Mpumalanga Province. Their friendship, which has lasted since Grade 10, has seen both ladies become the first beneficiaries of the Bureau Veritas scholarship program, a legacy of Bureau Veritas South Africa.

Ladies, give us your background

KM: I am Keletso Mokoena from a small town called Standerton in Mpumalanga. I also completed my High School in 2018. Currently, I am studying at UJ, doing Mining Engineering. My father is the only one who works in my family; as a result we couldn’t afford University fees. I am the first one to go to University at home, so you can understand the excitement and the disappointment that occurred. Excited that I could go to university, but also disappointed that my family couldn’t afford to send me there.

SM: My name is Sanelisiwe Mabaso. I completed High School in 2018. I am in my first year at Wits, doing B.Sc. which is a 3-year course. My mother is a single parent who was under pressure to raise money for me to go to University, and also take care of my sibling. Therefore I didn’t want to add to that pressure; and so I made peace with the fact that I won’t be able to go to University.

The beginning

KM: Sane told my friends about the scholarship then we all applied. I had lost hope, but when I got accepted into the program, I told myself that this was the new beginning.

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SM: I went through so much in applying for this scholarship. A week after receiving my Matric results, I applied for funding at Ithemba Trust and I wasn’t successful. A few weeks later, I heard about the scholarship program and I applied again, this time I was successful.

Life in Varsity

KM: Varsity life is different altogether. Standerton is like a little box compared to Johannesburg, but we get to make new friends which is cool. Living on campus provides so much relief because I don’t have to worry about security at night. Sometimes I finish my studies late, but because I’m on campus I don’t have to concern myself with how I am going to travel back to the Students Residence.

SM: It’s your first year and everything is new; and I’m the only one from my hometown at Wits. Fortunately they have this program where all first-year-students get together for orientation. You get to make new friends; some of the students attend same classes as me. Those friendships assist us in sharing school-work and helping each other with studies.

With so much time for work, any time for fun?

Keletso Mokoena

KM: One thing I’ve learned in varsity – time management! Plan your time accordingly, so that you have a balanced life. But most importantly, remember the reason you are there! Set your priorities straight, that degree needs to be first, second and third on your priority list.

SM: There’s this program where they offer counselling for students who may find it difficult to cope with University pressure. They had a demonstration when they showed the importance of time management. It’s very easy to fall back while school work is piling up! I remember one of my lecturers saying “You can work hard from Sunday to Friday and block out Saturday for leisure”.

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If a course was a song, what song would it be and why?

KM: For me it would be Beyonce’s Song “Who runs the world?” The course I am doing is male-dominated. But I am inspired to motivate other girls to do Mining Engineering. My aunt is a shift manager inone of the mines. She leads all these men in mining underground and that is inspirational for me.

SM: My course would be “Hard” by Rihanna. This song is jumpy, just like the course I am doing! It is hard but when I do well, I get that jumpy feeling of excitement.

At what point did you realize that this is the course you wanted to do?

KM: In January 2018 when school resumed, I was stuck between choices in B.Com Accounting or Mining Engineering. My aunt who works at one of the mines used to say “Being a woman in mining is difficult more especially when you are at management level. There’s so much undermining that takes place which ends up discouraging women”. That is when I realised that this is the industry I needed to choose in order to stand against the undermining of women in this sector.

SM: From Grade 9 I knew that Life Science was for me. I love anatomy, and my favourite TV programs used to be the ER Emergency. Everything to do with medics is my passion. I find the study of the human body very intriguing. I feel like it’s something that will always be of interest to me.

Community reaction back home?

Sanelisiwe Mabaso

KM: My mother’s friends usually visit and ask how I am handling university. My peers get an opportunity to ask me questions like “How to apply for both varsity and scholarship?” Others comment on my glow…

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SM: When we go back home, everyone is excited to see us. They keep calling me doctor; then they make jokes like “Ah, I’m sick here, doctor help”. We get motivated by the way our community reacts when they see us.

What would be your message to companies who may be in a position to offer scholarships?

KM: Some of my classmates who are on other scholarship programs; they are amazed that Bureau Veritas invites us to their events and that they regularly check on us to see if we are okay. My classmates on different programs complain about “They just give us money and that’s it”. Bureau Veritas is our family away from our families. Those WhatsApp messages tell us that we are not alone, there’s someone who cares. My message to other companies would be: don’t just throw money at the scholarship program but be involved as well; this goes a long way in motivating the beneficiary to work even harder.

SM: I’d say believe in children. They will not waste your money. The bursary puts this thought in your mind that “If I don’t do well, I might lose this aid so I must not give up”. So it encourages you to achieve those grades.

Your Graduation Speech

KM: I would like to thank God for this Bureau Veritas bursary which made it possible for me to stand here as a recipient of this prestigious degree. You have given me and my family a chance for a better life. Thank you.

SM: Thank you Bureau Veritas for believing in me. To my mom and my family: thank you for keeping me focused on the bigger picture, we made it! I am grateful that I can now inspire hope to other kids.