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The objective of a bursary is for a recipient to attain a degree. As I have an inherent passion for Youth development, I find it very fulfilling when, through my professional role, I am able to match prospective bursary recipients to bursary sponsors according to their Economically Active Population (EAP) requirements. The secret to the success of a bursary recipient and sponsor relationship is that it must be as seamless as possible. To that end I remove distractions, such as administration relating to the chosen institution, for the convenience of the sponsor and recipients.

In a managed setting, the B-BBEE bursary end-to-end process is fairly straightforward. It can take from six weeks up to several months to complete, depending on the value of the bursary and the number of students. It involves specific documentation and checking student registrations at the Department of Higher Education and Training institutes throughout South Africa. The awarding of bursaries takes place on an annual basis.

When a recipient receives a bursary, support is not necessarily guaranteed to continue the following year, as this will depend mainly on the student maintaining a good percentage of pass marks, the year of study (under- or post-graduate), as well as sponsor funding criteria and availability.

Over the past five years, I have managed thousands of bursary recipient and sponsor relationships. Due to the demanding aspects of managing these relationships, I often reflect on the impact a bursary can have on a recipient’s life. I appreciate a bursary sponsor’s input and commitment when considering bursary funding and the investment it makes towards the future employment prospects of a bursary recipient.

To reveal one of the students behind what is referred to as a ‘bursary recipient’ and the organisation referred to as a ‘bursary sponsor’, I would like to introduce Mikayla Eagles and her bursary sponsor, Italtile Limited, who have been active members of the BEE Chamber since 2019. As part of its Skills Development programme, Italtile awards bursaries annually.

Italtile has been ingrained in the South African economy for more than five decades. Over this time, Italtile has moved from importing tiles through its Alberton outlet to being a national commodity. Over the years, it has embraced the core principles of a transforming South Africa, as its latest B-BBEE Certificate showcases a Status Level 2 and 125% Preferential Procurement Recognition. The Italtile Skills Development bursary scheme is an investment in people, specifically the Youth.

Twenty-two-year-old Mikayla Eagles is one of Italtile’s bursary recipients. She was born and raised in Cape Town and is the middle child with an older brother and younger sister. Her hardworking parents raised her with a solid value system. Mikayla enjoys spending time with her friends and family like any young person. She loves where she lives, as she enjoys spending time at the ocean and outdoors, allowing her to re-energise and create

a space to think. Sport, specifically competitive swimming, has played a significant part in her life. It has taught her many lessons that she applies daily, especially with her studies. Oh yes, she loves pizza and an occasional dessert.

Mikayla, what led you to apply for a bursary?

In my third year, I applied and received a bursary through the BEE Chamber, whereby I met the criteria. The bursary allowed me to focus all my energy on my studies without worrying about fees. I was relieved that it removed the financial burden from my parents.

What were your most significant challenges when entering university?

I attended a boarding school, which gave me the tools to be independent. I had to learn to do things for myself because my parents were far away. Thus, my independence shaped my character and personality and gave me the confidence to ‘step up to the plate’ at university. Although there were character-building benefits to living away, the transition to university did not come without challenges. I was not prepared for the increase in my workload or the expected standard and quality of work. I realised I did not use the correct study methods, as what worked for me in high school no longer applied at university. Then there was navigating the university campus and understanding the lay of the land, which took time for me to get used to.

As I did not take up university residence, I was allocated a mentor through a Private Student Organisation, which did not provide me with adequate support. On reflection, a perfect mentor would have been a little older than me with experience navigating the university space. However, the university did offer orientation support to the new students, which went a long way toward helping me to adjust and familiarise myself with my new surroundings.

What field of study did you choose and why?

In 2021, I completed a BCom in Industrial Psychology. I am currently in my fourth year, completing my Honors in Industrial Psychology. I chose this degree as it combines working with people and business. I have always enjoyed helping people but never felt I could be a psychologist. Therefore, choosing to be an Industrial Psychologist allows me the best of both worlds, as I will work and help people in a business environment. I look forward to joining a well-established company where I can learn and grow through a Psychometric Internship.

How do you see your future job prospects in South Africa after graduating?

Challenging; the unemployment rate in South Africa remains high, and many graduates are unemployed. Unfortunately, this puts me at a disadvantage, as others in my area have job experience. Coming straight out of university, I will have limited work experience and certainly none in my field of study. Another challenge is that employers want job experience, as they are not prepared to invest in the development of graduates.

Do you have any message for Italtile, your bursary sponsor?

Please accept my heartfelt appreciation and gratitude for your sponsorship. It gave support when I needed it the most. I hope that you have felt the rewards of your investment. In providing a bursary, you enabled a young woman to complete her undergraduate degree and obtain acceptance into an Honors programme that only selects 30 people per year, which was no easy task. Thank you very much again.

Do you have a message for anyone looking for a bursary to further their studies?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Navigating the websites and juggling all the deadlines during the application process for different bursaries was quite challenging and overwhelming. But, in saying that, it became easier to navigate when the BEE Chamber took over the process on my behalf. My message is to persevere. There are bursaries, so start the process early, research and apply for as many sponsorships as possible.

Lesley Vaughan the Group Training Manager at Italtile Limited concludes. “Skills

Development and people are my passion. I am proud to work for a company who wants to help deserving students who otherwise may not be able to afford higher education and reach their potential. We take such pride in knowing we have made a difference in a student’s life and being able to give back to the community.”

TFM-Magazine-Issue-25-Bursaries An Investment in Youth
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