Losing her father on the last day of her matric exams dealt a severe blow to 18-year-old Rorisang Nkomo and her mother late last year.
The tragedy, however, did not stop the 2013 dux scholar at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls from obtaining distinctions in all eight of her subjects.
Nkomo, who dreams of eventually becoming a partner at a top financial services firm, is now eager to further her studies at the University of Johannesburg. She received the Allan Gray Scholarship — one of the country’s top bursaries — last year.
“I have learned that life is about more than your marks or the place that you come from — it is about what you have to give back,” said Nkomo said.
The academy’s class of 2013, 74 girls, became the first matrics at the school to write the exams set by the Independent Examinations Board since its first group of matrics in 2011.
Nkomo left her home in Phokeng, Rustenburg, at 11 to attend the Leadership academy. Now she wants to work at creating a project aimed at up-skilling women and girls of her home town.
“I want like to help change the traditional mindset about women that exists in the region and in South Africa”
Fellow matriculants Khanyisile Morudu, 18, and Thobeka Mnisi, 18, obtained four and five distinctions, respectively.
Morudu plans to study Computer Science at the University of Cape Town or Cryptography in the United States.
“As a lover of programming, I dream of one day working for the likes of Google or Apple, and hope to create great games for people to enjoy. My favourites are Street Racer and Street Fighter.”
Mnisi, the 15th child or 17 siblings from Nelspruit, had lost both her parents by the age of 11.
The prospective Biological Sciences and Literature student at Princeton University (US) believes in giving back to her community and has done so by volunteering at her local library.
“I also shared my peer tutoring experience and study skills with the local pupils who have not had the benefit of such opportunities themselves,” Mnisi said.
Outgoing Head of the Academy Anne van Zyl said: “The 2013 matric class was an extremely special class of girls who lead the charge to not only transform themselves, but also their communities and the world around them”.