The Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences (EMS) produced its second successive Student Representative Council (SRC) Chairperson when Xola Njengele took up the position on 21 September 2020.
Njengele, who is currently completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainable Development in the Faculty's School of Public Leadership, took over from outgoing chair and fellow EMS student Lewis Mboko.
The former Gardens Commercial High School pupil is the embodiment of the saying that behind every successful man is a great woman – in his case, his mother.
“Our family moved around a lot, but it is a testament to my mom that there are hardly any significant hardships that I can recall. Looking back, my mom did everything that she could to ensure that we lived a secure and comfortable life."
He credits the lessons instilled in him by his mother for his work ethic and the success he has achieved so far.
“It was always inspiring to see when growing up how my mom would set goals for herself and actively work hard to achieve them. To a great extent that showed me that if you put your mind to anything, there are high chances you will succeed."
Njengele, who graduated last year with an undergraduate degree in International Studies in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, is the first graduate in his family. He said this milestone would not have been possible without the support of his mom who always encouraged him to “continue working towards achieving all that my heart desires".
Asked about the people he looks up to and whose example he aspires to follow, he answered without hesitation, “It has to be my mom. How she has always managed to overcome life's challenges is honestly an inspiration to me."
The Gugulethu resident said he has already mapped out his plans for his term in office.
“Having been part of the 2019/20 SRC as the Academic Affairs Council Chairperson and being part of the SRC executive committee, I am quite knowledgeable about the structure itself as well as some of the pressing issues that need the attention of the SRC. As Chair, I hope to guide the SRC to successfully achieve its individual objectives.
“Beyond that I would like to ensure that policies such as the mental health policy, anti-gender based violence policies and the revision of the SU HEMIS (Higher Education Management Information System) regulations will be fully addressed with favourable outcomes within the 2020/21 term."
However, Njengele's plans for his future are not as clear cut.
“To be honest, I really do not know (what my plans are) and personally I think that is okay. Life is already stressful and I do not need a plan for the next five years to stress me out too. Where do I see myself in the next year though? That would be completing my MPhil in Sustainable Development. I still don't have any occupation in mind though."
Prof Ingrid Woolard, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, congratulated Njengele and expressed her delight in seeing EMS students stepping up to fulfil leadership roles within the broader university.
“We are confident that the skills that we seek to develop in our students – such as teamwork, innovative thinking and professionalism – can be put to good effect in all leadership roles," she said.
The 2020/21 Students' SRC election was conducted entirely online for the first time, due to the COVID-19 threat. This year, a total of 3 543 students voted in the election of the campus leaders, the second highest voter turnout in the past five years – the 2018 election saw 4 100 votes.
The election has also seen the highest number of candidates in recent years, with 20 students availing themselves as candidates. Some 348 students attended the online caucuses, where the candidates shared their mission statements and engaged in robust dialogue.