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Umlazi matric walks the long road to her dream career

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Umlazi matriculant Zizile Msomi did not let a two-hour walk to school or financial constraints get in the way of her dream of studying chemical engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

With no money for transport, Zizile embarked on the long walk daily from her home on the outskirts of Umlazi township to attend classes at Zwelibanzi High, never losing sight of her vision to change her circumstances. She remains determined to rise above them.

Out of 532 matrics who attended Engen Maths and Science Schools (EMSS) across South Africa in 2018, Zizile’s results placed her second overall. Having scored an incredible 98% for science and 89% for maths, and with seven distinctions in the bag, she credits the extra lessons provided by EMSS for her outstanding results.

“I attended the EMSS supplementary programme hosted at Mangosuthu University every Saturday which helped boost my marks, which were initially quite low,” says Zizile.

Her biggest challenge was to keep motived after first losing her father in 2016 and then her grandmother in June last year. “Losing people that you love is always difficult but it also motivated me to make them proud and be the best version of myself and do everything in my power to improve my family situation and give back to the community,” she adds.

Her advice for the class of 2019 is to prioritize, sacrifice and focus on your schoolwork. “As Madiba said, education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

A total of 532 matriculants from across South Africa benefited from Engen-backed extra classes in English, maths and science last year, achieving an impressive 93% pass rate overall, against the national rate of 78.2%. Two of the four EMSS centres in KwaZulu-Natal, Fairvale and Ganges boasted 100% pass rates.

The top three positions nationally in the 2018 EMSS class also all hailed from KwaZulu-Natal, with Velabahleke High School’s Thabiso Ndlovu topping the class both nationally and provincially, followed by Zizile and Brenton Johnson from Grosvenor Boys’ High.

There are nine EMSS centres in South Africa offering weekly supplementary classes to learners from grade 10-12, including one each in Cape Town and Gauteng, three in the Eastern Cape and four in KwaZulu-Natal.

Adhila Hamdulay, Engen’s Corporate Social Investment Manager, says the company is delighted to see Zizile get the chance to pursue his bid to become an engineer. “Zizile is a prime example of future leaders that the EMSS programme aims to assist, with a view to not only see them achieve personal success, but also to tackle the bigger issue of helping address key national skills shortages in the engineering, medical and other technical fields.

She adds: “At Engen, we strongly believe that we have a responsibility to help young people realize their full potential, and we feel enormously privileged to have played a role in Zizile’s impressive achievements.”

Equipping people with potential and drive to succeed in their careers sums up Engen’s approach to human resource management and education-focused corporate social investment programmes, comments Engen’s head of transformation and stakeholder engagement, Unathi Njokweni-Magida.

“We identify, support, reward, recruit, train and develop high-potential candidates for fulfilling careers in skills-challenged fields, in support of SA’s transformational agenda and Engen’s own business. We strongly believe that we have a responsibility to help young people realize their full potential, and we feel enormously privileged to have played a role in their impressive achievements.

“We are so incredibly proud of these learners, who epitomize the quality of the young people we work with around the country every year. Our ultimate reward is to help set them up to pursue stimulating careers that won’t only benefit them personally, but also the economy as a whole,” adds Njokweni-Magida.

Engen congratulates Zizile and the EMSS class of 2018 and offers a well-deserved round of applause to all the learners and teachers.

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