Bolekwa Mboniswa and Lerato Hlagala received post-graduate bursaries from Huawei to further their studies in information systems and computer science respectively at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits).
Mboniswa, who is from Cosmo City, said she was the only person to be admitted to Wits from her high school during her matric year.
She said she initially wanted to study mining engineering at the institution, but when she was rejected for the degree, she lost her scholarship.
Mboniswa said she took the rejection as a sign that she was in the wrong field and enrolled in Information Systems instead.
“My first year was hard since I was staying at home. However, I received the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding in my second year, which eventually led to me graduating in record time with a few distinctions,” she said.
Mboniswa completed her undergraduate in 2020 and was awarded one of the Huawei bursaries in order to pursue a postgraduate study in the same field.
Huawei South Africa has awarded bursaries to a select group of postgraduate ICT students as part of its efforts to bolster and support technology skills.
The bursaries, awarded to 48 students at five of South Africa’s universities, are worth R7-million.
The five universities are Wits, the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, University of Pretoria, University of Cape Town and the University of Western Cape.
13 of the bursaries were awarded Wits students during a virtual ceremony on Thursday.
Mboniswa said the bursary will be a major help in her achieving her long-term goal of being a beacon of hope for young boys and girls in the country’s townships.
But for now she is concentrating on completing her honours and graduating cum laude so she can contribute as much value as possible to any team she later joins, she said.
In his opening address, Director of Postgraduate Affairs Professor Roberts Muponde said the ceremony is taking place in the context of a life-shifting global pandemic as well as a research-shifting strategy that Wits is working on, which underlines the value of innovation and research with impact.
“The event heightens my sense of the resilience of human giving and human hope. Where others are reducing their commitments to funding postgraduate students due to devastating pandemic, Huawei has actually increased support for Wits students this year,” said Muponde.
According to a press statement released by the institution, Wits’ relationship with Huawei began in 2019. Wits said the relationship has provided valuable work experience for graduates who have joined the tech giant.
Daniel Jiang, Human Resources Development at Huawei said South Africa has no shortage of young, talented people capable of being groomed into world-class technology professionals.
“Too often, however, they simply aren’t given the necessary opportunities. At Huawei, we recognise that corporates can make important contributions in reversing that situation,” said Jiang.
Jiang said that while the company stands to benefit from the wider pool of candidates, its programme is far reaching and offers students from disadvantaged backgrounds an opportunity to flourish and accomplish their aspirations and academic goals.
He said it is vital that South Africa gets more students take up STEM courses (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
“We’re proud to be part of building those numbers and ensuring that those who do take those courses are as well equipped to enter the workplace,” said Jiang.
Hlagala, one of the Huawei bursary recipients and an post-graduate student at Wits, said the bursary is a chance to fulfil a long-term ambition to get into the technology space.
“My goal is to become a professional software developer,” she said Hlagala.
She said she would love to be part of a software organisation where she can share the knowledge and talents that she has earned.
“I want to be part of a place where I would gain more skills and grow as an individual.
“The bursary will help me get where I want to be. I am already learning a lot, especially now that I have added an extra module from Huawei to my studies. It allows me to focus and fully pay attention to my books without getting distracted by unpaid expenses,” said Hlagala.