Recipient of the Rick Turner Scholarship, Ms Darlynn Mabunda grew up in a child-headed household and relied on partial bursary funding and the generosity of a donor to cover her living expenses at university.
‘I had to look after my little brother and cousin from the age of 12 because our guardians lived in another province and would come home once a month to buy food for us and then go back to work,’ said the Master’s in Commerce student.
‘I am the first person to graduate in my family and coming from a disadvantaged background I feel the need to push myself extra hard in order to provide better opportunities not only for those around me but those to come,’ she added.
While the constant struggle to raise tuition fees and the burden of outstanding fees was not easy, dropping out was never an option for Mabunda.
‘Sometimes I would struggle to register because I still owed fees from the previous year. Paying rent was another challenge because my donor could only do so much and my UKZN bursaries did not cover everything. I overcame these hurdles by studying hard,’ she said.
As the recipient of a scholarship which recognises top achieving postgraduate students in the broad disciplines of Politics and Labour Studies who also exhibit a commitment to community engagement, Mabunda is dedicated to giving back to her hometown.
‘I come from a small village called Buyisonto in a town called Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga where we had little resources. Hearing inspirational stories about the power of education from my primary and high school teachers empowered me to be the woman I am today. My high school friends and I established a programme to assist high school kids making the transition to university. We help them secure admission to a Higher Education Institution after their matric. I look forward to the initiative having a greater impact in the future,’ she said.
Words: Thandiwe Jumo
Photograph: Sthabiso Mkhonza