A second chance, coupled with hard work and the determination to succeed, has seen Phumeza Gova, a beneficiary of the SciMathUS programme, take to the stage twice during Stellenbosch University's December 2019 Graduation Week.
Gova was awarded a BSc Degree in Geology during the Faculty of Science graduation, and this evening she will receive a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) during the Faculty of Education graduation ceremony.
Gova is one of many students who have been given a second chance to succeed through the SciMathUS programme. An initiative of Stellenbosch University (SU), the programme offers learners who have already passed Grade 12 (with an average of at least 60%) but who do not qualify for higher education, a second opportunity to improve their NSC results in specific subjects to enable them to re-apply for university programmes.
Thanks to the support of a teacher who advocated for the SU SciMathUs programme, the 27-year old, who hails from Delft, took the train to Stellenbosch in January of 2011 to enquire and apply for the programme.
“After one year at SciMathUS, I was unstoppable in Maths and Physical Science, but I struggled with academic literacy a lot – and failed twice. However, giving up was never an option because I was the only person in my family who had the opportunity to go to university.
“I failed in 2013 and again in 2014, but strangely enough there were still people who believed in me – people who wanted to see me succeed," recalls Gova.
One of these individuals were Nokwanda Siyengo, Director at SciMathUS, who Gova says believed in her even when she did not believe in herself.
Although Gova moved on to pursue her studies in the Faculty of Science, she kept close ties with SciMathUS and became a mentor in 2019.
“Being part of the SciMathUS programme meant I knew what students in the programme struggled with," Gova says.
The graduate now has her sights set on finding employment and taking care of her family. “I want to make my mother proud; she has been patient with me and believed in me even when I was failing."