Empowering Scholars: St. Andrews College & The Diocesan School for Girls visit Rhodes University

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Vice-Chancellor Professor Sizwe Mabizela, SRC President Thando May, and the Director in the VC's Office Sue Smailes with pupils
Vice-Chancellor Professor Sizwe Mabizela, SRC President Thando May, and the Director in the VC's Office Sue Smailes with pupils

By: Ephreeda Banda

On the 4th of June 2024, Rhodes University warmly welcomed a cohort of aspiring scholars from St. Andrews College and The Diocesan School for Girls (DSG) for a day brimming with discovery and engagement. This event stood as a testament to Rhodes University's enduring dedication to forging meaningful partnerships with neighbouring schools and its unwavering commitment to expanding access to higher education.

Rhodes University has worked closely with schools in its surrounding areas for years, recognising the importance of nurturing talent and providing opportunities for academic advancement. The visitation day on June 4th marked a significant milestone in this ongoing collaboration. The university has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with St. Andrew's College and DSG, solidifying pathways for scholars from these institutions to pursue their higher education at Rhodes.

Central to the day's activities were one-on-one interactions with deans from various faculties, allowing scholars to delve deep into their academic interests, seek guidance, and gain clarity on prospective fields of study. The presence of the Vice-Chancellor added gravitas to the occasion, underscoring the university's commitment to engaging directly with prospective students and fostering a culture of accessibility and transparency.

Kumkane Kabane, a student currently undertaking A-levels at St. Andrews, articulated the significance of the experience, emphasising the invaluable connections forged and the clarity gained regarding his academic future. Kabane's sentiments echoed those of many others who found the visitation day informative and transformative, sparking newfound enthusiasm and determination in their pursuit of higher education.

Cindy Fumbata, the Director of Pupil Development at DSG and a proud alumna of Rhodes University reflected on the day's impact, noting how witnessing students' enthusiasm and curiosity reignited her passion for her alma mater. Fumbata underscored the importance of exposing students to Rhodes' unique academic offerings and supportive environment, recognising the role of institutions like Rhodes in shaping the future leaders of tomorrow.

Nombulelo Gongqa, the Transformation, Diversity, and Inclusion Officer at DSG, highlighted the broader implications of initiatives like the visitation day, emphasising the importance of providing students with exposure to university life and empowering them to strive for excellence. Through interactions with deans, current students, and representatives from various facets of university life, scholars gained academic insights and a profound sense of belonging and possibility.

Adding to the chorus of positive experiences, Kwazi Matoti, a student at DSG, shared her thoughts on the day. Matoti expressed her delight at being immersed in the daily life of a Rhodes University student, from visiting residences to exploring dining halls and gaining insight into academic systems. For Matoti, the visitation day was informative and instrumental in solidifying her decisions, offering clarity amidst conflicting choices and providing invaluable guidance from university officials.

Beyond providing a window into academic pursuits, the visitation day underscored Rhodes University's commitment to equity and inclusion in education. By partnering with schools like St. Andrews and DSG, Rhodes endeavours to create a pipeline of scholars from diverse backgrounds. From personalised mentoring to psychological and social support services, Rhodes University endeavours to nurture the holistic development of its students, equipping them with the tools and resources needed to thrive academically and personally.

The visitation day also served as an opportunity to showcase Rhodes University's vibrant campus life, with scholars gaining insights into sports, societies, and student governance through interactions with the Student Representative Council (SRC) President, Thando May. Despite logistical challenges such as inclement weather and ongoing exams, the university's dedication to providing an immersive and enriching experience for scholars remained unwavering, further underscoring its commitment to student success and well-being.

As Rhodes University continues to deepen its engagement with surrounding schools and expand its outreach efforts, the impact of initiatives like the visitation day extends far beyond individual scholars. By fostering a culture of academic excellence, inclusivity, and opportunity, Rhodes University plays a pivotal role in advancing the broader goals of educational access and social mobility.

In the words of Kabane, Fumbata, Gongqa, and Matoti, the visitation day was not merely an event but a transformative experience that has the potential to shape the trajectory of students' lives. As these scholars embark on their educational journeys, they carry the knowledge, inspiration, and support gained from their visit to Rhodes University, serving as beacons of hope and possibility in their communities and beyond.