Stellenbosch University
Welcome to Stellenbosch University
Alumna takes on Comrades for 'missing middle' students
Author: Development & Alumni Relations
Published: 08/07/2024

Candice van Wijk finished her first Comrades Marathon with a bronze medal and a massive smile on her face. A smile that not only beamed with joy at being able to complete the demanding race but also with awe and wonder at the remarkable generosity and humanity displayed by her fellow Maties and South Africans.

The Stellenbosch University (SU) alumna was one of 60 SU staff, students and alumni who ran the Comrades Marathon in June as part of the #Move4Maties initiative to raise funds for the “missing middle" students who do not qualify for the government's National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

“To be very honest, I wasn't even aware of these 'missing middle' students, which is why it is so important to raise awareness," said Candice. “During this campaign, I watched how 'minimal' contributions from many newly informed people like me grew to become an impactful amount."

Candice, who moved to Luxembourg with her husband (also a fellow Matie) 10 years ago, added: “This campaign was a massive eye opener for me. I was very privileged to study at Stellenbosch University, qualifying as a chartered accountant and enjoying the opportunities that this unlocked for me. But thanks to Alwin Mabuza (Individual and Regular Fundraiser at Development and Alumni Relations), I was able to participate in this initiative and give back to fellow Maties and feel like a real Matie for the first time in years.

“Even more inspiring was to see a fellow Matie (Chris Zaayman, a former NSFAS beneficiary who graduated in March this year with an MBA from Stellenbosch Business School) who actually benefited from an initiative like this going all out to raise as much awareness and funds as possible."

The Bachelor of Accounting graduate (2008) qualified for the Comrades after running the Sofico Ghent Marathon in Belgium with a fellow Matie “who ran with the sole purpose of seeing me qualify".

She said of her participation in the gruelling 2024 Comrades Marathon: “I loved the event. I have never experienced South Africa this way before, so unified and filled with hope. It felt like I touched the heartbeat of South Africa.

“The hardest part for me was parting ways with an amazing oom that I met on the run. We ran together for 50 kms. He encouraged me and was very generous with his knowledge and experience. I was so blessed to have met him. With 30 kms to go he insisted that I run ahead. I felt very sad to leave him behind but very happy to hear afterwards that he finished well, collecting his eleventh medal in the process. It's strange, isn't it … I started doing this to help someone else, but in the end it's me who walks away blessed."

Candice currently works as an accountant for Andy Schleck, a former professional road bicycle racer and 2010 Tour de France winner.

“We try to come home at least once a year but as our family grew so did the air ticket prices. So, now we travel home every two years, with our family visiting us in between. I love Luxembourg and I am grateful for the life we've built here, but my heart will always belong to South Africa."​