Education Student Defies the Odds to Receive Distinguished Student Award
Education Honours student, Ms Zanemvula Duma, is the proud recipient of the prestigious UKZN Distinguished Student Award which rewards and recognises students with outstanding academic achievement together with excellence in community engagement or exceptional university service as reflected in the University’s vision, mission and goals.
This scholarship award is unique in the sense that it is based on nominations from staff for students in the University and is funded by the Institution’s Teaching and Learning Office.
Duma is the first student from the School of Education to receive the award. ‘This award is directed at the goals I have,’ she said proudly. ‘There is deep meaning in this for me and validation in my pursuit to bring change to many lives. Charity begins at home and the world tomorrow, because we need each other as a global family. My family, especially my mother, is so proud. When I called her to deliver the news, she sang and cried with joy. For my parents, it is pride and joy accompanied by validation that I will achieve the goals I always speak of. I rarely ever celebrate my achievements but this calls for a celebration,’ she said.
Duma attended Umzinto Secondary School where she excelled in both academic and leadership roles. She also sang gospel music; competing at provincial competitions. Despite facing financial difficulties, she proved her academic prowess at UKZN. ‘In my search for financial assistance, I knocked on so many doors and each one was shut,’ said Duma. Adding to that strain, she suffered from depression after the passing away of her sister in 2011. ‘That was, by far, the most difficult time in my life. My social anxieties were at their peak. Community and university service have since helped me to overcome many of my social anxieties,’ she said.
The Scholarship will not only give Duma financial freedom but will also enable her to give back to her community and university by donating part of the award to the organisation/s of her choice. ‘Choosing just one or two organisations to give back to will be a very difficult task as all the organisations that I have been involved in are more than deserving,’ she said.
She thanked her family and friends for their support and UKZN for awarding her the scholarship. ‘Do things for people without expectation and watch the universe do greater things for you,’ she said.
Words: Melissa Mungroo
Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal