Stellenbosch University
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A Day in the life: Khanyisa Xinwa
Author: Corporate Communications and Marketing
Published: 13/05/2024

Khanyisa Xinwa serves as the Student Support Coordinator at Stellenbosch University's (SU) Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences where she provides essential guidance to undergraduates navigating various challenges. With a background in psychology and extensive experience in support roles, Xinwa is adept at creating a safe and supportive environment for students. As we kicked off May celebrating Workers' Day, we dedicate this series of profiles to our staff and their crucial contributions to SU.

What does your role at SU entail? 

My role entails providing guidance and support to students within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, with a focus on our undergraduate students on issues that impact their student success. This guidance is provided based on various factors such as academic, financial, accommodation and psychosocial issues. It also serves as a primary liaison with our different stakeholders. It supports structures such as our Disability Unit, Centre for Student Counselling and Development, bursaries, loans, and accommodation, to mention a few. The role involves individual consultations with students, providing guidance and support tailored to their unique needs. 

What does a typical day at work look like? 

My typical day in the office differs from day to day due to the various issues our students face. I attend daily to emails from students requesting some support and walk-ins. The interactions with each student will determine the steps to follow. At times during the consultation, we could find a resolution to the matter at hand. However, at other times, I would need to contact our various support structures for assistance. This would either be through emails or on other days, it would require me to physically accompany our students to our various departments.

How did your education or past experiences prepare you for this job? 

My educational background in psychology has prepared me in various ways for this role. It allows me to handle some of the difficult consultations with our students that are, at times, distressing. It also allows me to empathise with our students and provide guidance on psychosocial matters. I have extensive experience in support roles in corporate and educational settings. This experience will surely come in handy in how I deal with our student cohort and provide the necessary support. About a year ago, I also had the privilege of joining the Client Services team in the Registrar's Division. This has familiarised me with our different departments and the services they offer our students.

What do you enjoy most about your role and working at SU? 

I enjoy providing a safe space for our students away from home and a platform where they feel heard. What brings joy to me is the ability to make a difference in our students' journey and provide the required support where possible. In addition, it allows me to raise awareness among our students about our different support structures at SU and their various roles. My role also equips me with a better understanding of some of the issues that impact students in today's times and being able to empathise with them. And lastly, definitely seeing a student feel that much better after our consultation.

Tell us something exciting about yourself that few people would expect?  

Once upon a time, after a few auditions during my student years, I was able to dabble between our local TV screens and campus radio as a presenter. It is something I enjoyed doing outside of my studies, but I am not considering returning to that world anytime soon. I am also into fitness and enjoy a good morning workout to start my day. 

PHOTO: Stefan Els