Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina has honoured university graduates for their hard work and dedication to their studies.
The graduates are beneficiaries of the City’s R100 million community bursary scheme, which has now benefitted over 6 000 financially needy students in the Metro.
On Wednesday, Masina spent a day with these graduates, including the top matric learners of 2019.
The occasion was the annual City of Ekurhuleni Academic Excellence Awards Ceremony 2020, held at the Alberton Civic Centre.
Masina handed out certificates and bursaries for the 2020 academic year including corporate gifts to the top performing learners, which included new graduate Kamogelo Innocent Motsoagae, a recipient of the Community Bursary Scheme who graduated in physiotherapy.
He was joined on stage by a newly graduated medical doctor Lisa Nunes and architect Lerato Tsuping, recipients of the Ekurhuleni Mayor’s Tertiary Assistance Fund (EMTAF).
The trio wrote under the topic, THIS IS MY STORY: Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers, about their experiences overcoming their challenging circumstances and graduated thanks to the financial assistance from the Ekurhuleni Metro.
Their work was moderated by Councillor Lesiba Mpya, MMC for Human Settlements in Ekurhuleni.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the City of Ekurhuleni and the mayor for the bursary given to me a few years ago,” said Motsoagae.
“I have had my own struggles and challenges, but I am glad I finally made it as a physiotherapist, thanks to the bursary scheme from the city of Ekurhuleni.”
Motsoagae said he would use his position as physiotherapist to promote healthy living, particularly in black communities.
He said he was deeply concerned about the number of people dying due to lifestyle- and stress-related diseases such as diabetes, strokes and heart attacks.
Motsoagae said he would like to establish weekly boot camps in the township where people can be taught about the value of healthy living and physical exercise.
“I would like to say, you can deal with these diseases without using medicine but routine exercise and healthy lifestyle. I would also like to teach our people how to deal with obesity in our communities. Lastly, I would also like to see more men reduce their big stomachs through daily exercise,” he said.
Motsoagae said as a man, he was also concerned about the high incidents of gender-based violence in South Africa.
“We must speak out against gender-based violence, especially men, who are mainly the perpetrators of GBV. It all starts from the bottom. We need to educate young men on how to deal with their anger and violence from an early age,” he said.
Nunes, 24, who comes from Alberton, said she was the first generation child in her family to have the luxury of studying towards a medical degree at Wits University.
“I have always loved helping people and doing good things. That’s why I chose to be a medical doctor. I have always to assist people from less privileged backgrounds than me. I am also very grateful to the bursary that I received from Ekurhuleni,” said Nunes, a former Alberton High School learner.
She said university experience was different from high school.
“My advice to those who are going to university for the first time this year is that start working from day one and be disciplined throughout the whole year. However, enjoy yourself too, eat well, pursue your hobbies and have fun at the same time and spent time with your family when the need arises.”
Nunes intends to do internship at Baragwanath Hospital as part of her community service before getting a full-time post in the local or provincial government sector.
Tsuping, who studied architectural design studies at the University of Johannesburg, said she was a change agent and looking forward to transform the face of architecture in Ekurhuleni.
She said as a little girl growing up in Nhlapo Section, a violent and economically depressed part of Katlehong township, she said she had to overcome many challenges affecting the youth including alcohol, drugs, bad influences and hopelessness.
“I come from Nhlapo Section, one of the most disadvantaged areas in the township but I have made it against all odds. I told myself that despite my background, I will become an architect.”
“Things are bad but excuses don’t help. There are so many bad influences. We need to go back to our communities and teach young people that you can become whoever you want to be in life if you are disciplined and focused,” said Tsuping.
Tsuping said as an architect, she hopes to change many government buildings in Ekurhuleni by adding a bit of bright colours to them.
“Most of the buildings in Ekurhuleni are an eyesore, if not totally intimidating. I would like to add a bit of colour to these buildings in order to make them look good,” said Tsuping.