SCHOLARSHIPS GIVE OPPORTUNITIES AND SUPPORT DURING CV-19
William Prezens, 21 years old, from the West Coast community of Hopefield, is studying toward an MBChB (Medicine) at Stellenbosch University, as part of Umoya Energy Wind Farm’s scholarship programme. One of five beneficiaries of this scholarship programme, William was awarded the Meerhoff Residence 2020 Banquet Awards Certificate of Excellence and Achievement, for his consistent academic achievements, over 3 years.
Currently, in his fourth year of the seven years of studying, he will graduate in 2024, including a mandatory internship period, during which he hopes to have the opportunity to explore the country before returning to his hometown, Hopefield.
“The bursary basically saved my life and enabled me to go and study my big love, medicine. It helped my family financially because they know that I am in safe hands and that my future is in safe hands,” said William Prezens, who dreams of giving back to his community by helping young people as a life coach as well as becoming a specialist.
Like many students studying during the current health pandemic, it has been a tough period, but nevertheless William still achieved excellent results, for which he received accolades. He explained, saying, “Last year was a challenge, not only emotionally but also mentally. To stay motivated for the whole year was expedited by my natural drive, of which I have plenty. That basically saved me and support of my friends and family. For me the award just shows that hard work and determination do get rewarded.”
The scholarship programme took into account the needs of students during the pandemic, responding with additional funds to supply laptops and data, to support remote learning. The students also received an increase in their allowances, specifically to assist those who reside at non-catering residences.
This is in addition to mentoring and psycho-social support to further enhance the financial contribution made by Umoya Energy Wind Farm, to allow beneficiaries to thrive within their full potential.
Some activities include bi-semester mentor conversations with all beneficiaries, with the explicit objective of detecting and preventing psycho-social deterioration and prevention of academic exclusion, which is exacerbated by the CV-19 isolation.
During the 2021 academic year, StudyTrust, the programme implementer, has continued hosting individual mentor conversations campus by campus, making use of virtual media platforms and technology with adherence to social distancing protocols and other related CV-19 safety requirements. Senior mentors are certified to work with beneficiaries, especially in meeting the challenges presented by the new normal. A guide is prepared for mentors to assist them with the technical preparation of meetings as well as to guide the learning element of conversations. Beneficiary responses to surveys are another tool implemented to locate and guide the conversation.
“The summer and winter seminars provide activities that build and enhance life skills for our scholarship beneficiaries. The focus this year is on ensuring empowerment, skills enhancement and to broaden both understanding and expectations of their respective tertiary institutions, along with integrating amongst a diverse range of cultures and people. The programme is further aimed at helping our students cope with their academics and prepare them for the world of work. These are week-long activities with beneficiaries engaging on topics such as Mindfulness; Self-Management; Entrepreneurship Skills; and Money Management amongst many other skills,” said Veronique Isaacs, Project Community Operations Officer for Umoya Energy Wind Farm.
The Scholarship Fund aims to provide tertiary education funding for youth living within the Saldanha Bay Municipal area, specifically the communities of Hopefield, Langebaan, Vredenburg, Saldanha Bay and St. Helena Bay. The focus is to contribute towards human resource development in fields considered critical for the South African economy. Study fields include Teaching, Engineering, Natural and Social Sciences, Environment and Nursing.
Because the Umoya Energy Scholarship Fund exclusively targets learners in these beneficiary towns, they don’t need to compete against contenders from other provinces, making it a fantastic opportunity to fulfil a dream of studying after school. The Wind Farm, which launched this fund in 2015, awards scholarships to successful applicants who qualify to study an undergraduate degree or National Diploma at a recognized University or TVET College.
The Fund covers full scholarships, with the following criteria: South African citizens living within the Saldanha Bay Municipality; outstanding academic achievements; financially constrained to study at a tertiary institution; preference, but not limited to, will be given to applicants whose intended field of study includes the following: Education-Teaching, Engineering, Sciences, Environmental Studies and Nursing; applicants must be registered for full-time studies towards an academic degree or diploma at an accredited institution.