While most South Africans are impatiently waiting to take a break from the daily grind, our soon-to-be graduates are eager to start their journey into the world of work.
Sadly, the stress of graduating with debt is overwhelming for many students.
As we stand on the threshold of our Centenary, we would like to send the Class of 2017 into their new adventure debt free. All monies raised during our SU99 campaign will go directly to final year students who have outstanding debt on their books.
Professor Stan du Plessis, Chief Operating Officer (Designate), shares his support for the #SU99 campaign.
1. Why has motivated your giving to numerous Stellenbosch University projects over the past decade?
I care deeply about universities – and our university in particular – and have often seen the powerful role it can play in the lives of students and staff, as well as society more broadly. I try to help modestly where I can on all these dimensions with my time and sometimes with resources.
2. How do you respond to potential donors who have the perception that Stellenbosch University “has enough money?"
SU's financial management is sound and prudent, and that is how it should be to achieve our goals over many decades. We are grateful for the resources we have, and use them actively to support students with financial need, as well as many other wonderful projects.
But the need is much greater than our current means. I try to show potential donors how much more we can do if they were able to support the university; this is especially true where financial aid to students is concerned.
3. Is there resistance to giving to SU that you've encountered recently?
I hear most frequently the sincere plan to give to the university in the future, some years hence, when the potential donor expects to have the means. My view is that one's opportunity to support a worthy cause is not determined by the comfort of your own circumstances but by the need of the person you could assist.
4. You were inspired to help pay a student's debt this month. Can you tell us about this?
I have known the student for a number of years as a beneficiary of a bursary scheme of which I am a trustee. He is a wonderful student and admirable young man. Due to unhappy family circumstances, he ran into financial difficulties shortly before graduation and the trust was not able to support him. I did not want him to start his career with a debt burden and was fortunate enough to have been in a position to help.
5. Would you encourage fellow SU staff to support the SU99 campaign to help alleviate student debt?
I would like my colleagues to reflect on the position of students who have worked hard to complete their degrees, but cannot yet receive their degree certificates due to outstanding debt. I challenge them to help us clear their debt and help launch them on the career paths for which we helped to prepare them.