Spotlight on Beyond School

On the recent Tigers Touch Rugby Tour, Craig Paxton (Axium director) and the team caught up with some of the Axium alumni studying in and around Cape Town. Here’s a reflection from Craig…

I recently spent one of the most inspiring days I can remember with a group of rural school students visiting our Ekukhuleni alumni currently studying in Cape Town. We now have more than 20 of our former students studying at four tertiary institutions in the greater Cape Town area, so the trickle that once was, is becoming much more of a steady flow. We’re hoping tours like this will help open up the floodgates!

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TSiBA with Lwando (’12), Luvo (’13) and Siphosethu (’13)

Thinking back on the day there were probably three reasons why I was left feeling so deeply ‘warmed’ by the experience. Firstly, our alumni are simply a great bunch of young people. It was so nice to catch up and to see them DOING WELL in the big, scary world of the city and at some of our nations’ most prestigious universities. I’m sure behind the big smiles and happy chatter there were some stories of struggle and failure, but most of what I heard from them was overwhelmingly positive. Sive (Ekukhuleni 2015) scored 93% for his first physics test. Siphosethu (’13) was named entrepreneur of the year at TSiBA. Sanele(’14) is cruising through second year pharmacy. Mawande (’15) is as committed and focused as ever. Luvo (’13) won the Top Student prize in his final year at TSiBA Eden, which means his studies are paid for this year…. the list goes on. What an amazing tribute to the rural grit that marks so many of our students!

The UWC Pack – A veritable horde of Ekukhuleni alumni!

My second reason for feeling so inspired is that our alumni are just such outstanding ambassadors and motivators. At the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Vuyisa (’13) single-handedly gave our group a fantastic campus tour and presentation, all with the noise of student protests going on in the background – an apt reminder of the wider struggle for education playing out on campuses across the country at the moment. Our four students at TSiBA had arranged a conference room for the occasion and spoke brilliantly about their experiences as entrepreneurs- and business people-in-the-making. A real eye-opener for our rural kids who have so little exposure to business. Finally, the crew at UWC set up little buzz-groups with three or four of our ‘tourists’ to share some of the challenges they’ve experienced, as well as to motivate the youngsters to make sure they end up along the same path. Our alumni have embraced their role as rural trail-blazers with a clear understanding that this is not just about them.

Alumni at TSiBA share their journeys around the boardroom table

And so my final ‘warm fuzzy’ was around this wider influence – what I saw happening in the group of students I had brought with me from Zithulele over the course of the day. Some, like Gcobani (’15), had started off highly-motivated already. He spent the morning with his good friend Mbuyekezi (’15) attending an Actuarial Science lecture at UCT and it was clear that his drive had become focussed on winning a place to study towards a BCom at UCT next year. Others like Sigqibo (’17) and Zama (’16), promising students but perhaps not as clear about the commitment needed to succeed, came away from the day motivated to take their efforts to new levels. For the majority of the group who may not all have been academically inclined, the message was around actively taking up opportunities to learn, grow and further themselves as they transition out of school.

A truly inspiring day, made possible by many generous individuals around the world who support our work. Sincere thanks.

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CPUT with Vuyisa (’13) and The Mountain

Footnote: Thuliswa Nodada, our Careers Coordinator, recently caught up with Yanga Blayi (’15) studying medicine at Wits University in Jo’burg. Once again, challenges but mostly really positive stories from there too!


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