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NONKOSI MNGXOLI

“I realised that the only way to get out of the challenges of life is to study and work hard. I went on to do my Honours and Masters and never had to struggle for money to do those degrees, but NSFAS got me through by funding me for my undergraduate degree”



Career Field : Policy Research
Occupation : Government Policy Researcher
Institution : University of Cape Town
Course : B.A in Law

I come from Khayelitsha township in Cape Town. I consider my growing up as similar to most people’s experiences in townships. In some parts of my childhood I was raised by my grandparents because my parents were still very young. My mother had me while she was still a teenager. I am the first born in a family of three children. My father had a job at a car dealership, where he was selling car parts. My mother also worked for the same company as a cleaner. Later on after they bought their own house and moved in together, I went to live with them. The family experience was short-lived because later on my parents were retrenched, got separated and finally divorced. It affected me because I was still in Grade 7 and preparing for high school.

I went to a very good high school where my parents could not really afford to pay for me, but I was fortunate because my grandfather intervened and paid for a part of my school fees. There were career guidance classes at my school so that gave us a glimpse of the careers available out there, that is why my wish was to become a lawyer, specialising in commercial law. While in high school, I found piece jobs to make a little bit of money, I worked as a part-time waitress at various restaurants around Cape Town. I passed Matric in 2001 and registered at the University of Cape Town where I studied B.A Law. Getting into UCT had its own challenges because after I got accepted, I did not know how my studies were going to be funded. I applied for NSFAS through the university’s financial aid office. But after some time, the university confirmed that I had qualified for NSFAS funding, so my tuitions and residence were taken care off.

I passed my subjects very well, so NSFAS converted 40% of my funding loan into a bursary. After graduating I worked at a company called Shanduka, as an executive assistant in research. It happened that when the chairman of Shanduka – Mr Cyril Ramaphosa - left the business to go into government, he took me along and that is how I joined the Presidency. Prior to Shanduka, I worked for DeBeers, a mining company that recruited that recruited me straight from university in 2007. In government, I do a lot of research work around policy in the office of the Deputy President. I work for the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa and we basically provide research briefs and insight and information on all the portfolios that he is working on such as state-owned entities, education, cabinet work and other areas. I still have a lot I want to achieve

ADVICE TO CURRENT NSFAS STUDENTS:

“Complete your studies as early as you can. Do your postgraduates immediately after your first qualification. Keep the momentum. You must be able to see past where you are now”.

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