Three talented Matie students' dreams of a better future through education have become a reality thanks to the Russel Botman Bursary Fund. The students are the first ever recipients of the Russel Botman Bursary and have each been awarded R85 000.
They are Sandiso Sogula, a postgraduate law student; Randall van den Heever, a second-year BAccounting student and Soné Reens, a second-year BSc (Molecular Biology & Biotechnology) student.
The late Prof Botman, former Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University (SU), established the Fund on his 60th birthday on 18 October 2013 – requesting friends, family and colleagues to contribute to the Fund in lieu of gifts.
Prof Botman passed away on 28 June 2014.
"I am grateful, honoured and privileged to be part of the legacy of Prof Russel Botman and I will do everything in my power to succeed and be the best that I can be," said Van den Heever.
For Sogula, this bursary is a reminder that hard work pays off. "This bursary has reminded me that in life hard work is recognised, it might not be immediately, but somewhere there is a good person or foundation that will reward you. This means a great deal to me."
Reens, in turn, said that words could not describe her joy. "This bursary takes away the stress of worrying about finances and means I can focus on my studies. I am truly thankful."
"We are so grateful to the individuals and organisations that have made contributions to the Bursary Fund since it was established and so excited to award these bursaries to deserving students," said Dr Beryl Botman, widow of the late Prof Botman.
"These students show enormous potential through their continued commitment to give their best and get the most out of their studies. They are excellent representatives of the very reasons why Russel established this bursary. Through them we can make the hope and vision that Russel so cherished, a reality," she said.
Dr Botman added: "We hope that this bursary gives them the peace of mind to now focus their full attention and energy on their studies and student life, without having to deal with huge financial challenges."
Prof Elna Mouton, former Dean of SU's Faculty Theology and prof Botman's daughter Roxanne, both members of the Russel Botman Bursary Fund Committee, have appealed to donors to continue their support and have invited others to consider making a contribution.
"My dad, like President Mandela and many others believed that education is the key to our country and our continent's development and with this Bursary Fund we can make a difference. We have received big and small amounts, once-off as well as monthly contributions from families, students, parents, friends and interested parties and we are so grateful. These students are indeed an investment in the future," Roxanne added.
An official bursary handover ceremony is set to be held on 18 October 2016 as part of the Annual Russel Botman Memorial Lecture.
- If you would like to make a contribution to the Russel Botman Bursary Fund – the details for direct payments are: Standard Bank, account number 07 300 695 5 and branch code 05 0610. Please make sure to add the reference: Botman.
Photo: Sandiso Sogula, Dr Beryl Botman, Soné Reens and Randall van
den Heever (photo by Stefan Els)