The aim of this award is not simply to give acknowledgement to these students, but also to inspire those who have yet to overcome the obstacles that are keeping them from succeeding in their own lives. The 'Succeeding Against the Odds' Award winners of 2015:Lizette Janse van Rensburg
Lizette Janse van Rensburg, from Mpumalanga, has been working for one of the biggest energy companies in South Africa for the past eight years. In 2011, doctors found a tumour in her pituitary gland. This was not the only health problem she was confronted with, however:
"As if that was not enough I was diagnosed with Epilepsy called Complex Partial Seizures... At that stage of my career I was having about 10 seizures a day which made it impossible for me to hand in my assignments on time. But that did not stop me from succeeding. I talked to the Assessor and they decided to give me longer time to complete my assignments. I always asked myself, 'Why me? What did I do wrong to deserve this?' But then I lift my head and go on again. I now accept my sickness and I am confident that I will and can succeed in anything I take on."
It is particularly the flexibility that comes with distance learning that helped Lizette continue her studies despite her severe health problems:
"I was browsing the net and came across Oxbridge Academy and I thought to myself I also want to study again and at the beginning of the year I entered. I know I can succeed although it takes me longer to complete my assignments but thanks to Oxbridge I can do my assignments on my own time. With God everything is possible and the assessors are kind enough to help me in every possible way."
Living with an illness presents both a physical and a psychological obstacle. To remain optimistic and to take control over your life in these circumstances is an immense achievement, worthy of an award. Mathe Salome
26-year-old Mathe Salome and her husband were both working as contract employees in rural Limpopo. When their contracts were terminated one after the other in 2010, they had nowhere to turn:
"The termination of his contract became a very stressful event to the family since he was promised that his contract was to be renewed but that didn't come to pass. As the situation stood, we were no longer able to meet the basic necessities within our household.
"However, I didn't allow such a situation to disgrace and intimidate me and my family. From the little money that was previously saved, I opened a small business... I was selling ice creams, sweets, snacks, vetkoek and so forth from my house. The business was able to sustain the family even though the standard of living was never the same as before."
Mathe's entrepreneurial spirit was ignited. The spaza shop grew, and she and her husband bought two computers to open up their own internet café. With the profit from that little business, they eventually opened up a decorating business, too. It was at that point that she enrolled for her course at Oxbridge Academy:
"I then came to realise that I am passionate about businesses hence I have registered [with] Oxbridge Academy to acquire proper and formal skills to formalise my businesses and to ensure convenience and satisfying services to my customers.
"Even though I would earn a living from the businesses, things have never been easy for me. Serving as a wife, a mother, a business woman and a student at the same time is exhausting. However, I ensure that I secure and invest sufficient time for each task and responsibility with the hope that someday I will obtain all the necessary qualifications to grow my businesses, register as a company and employ people who will assist me successfully run and manage my businesses."
Mathe's confidence and resilience exemplifies the 'Succeeding Against the Odds' award. She not only refused to let adversity get her down, but she succeeded in spite of it. Emile Smith
At age 11, Emile was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, a muscle disease that severely hampers movement and mobility. This disability became an immense obstacle when he wanted to pursue his studies:
"After I finished school it was very difficult to get into varsities due to my muscle problem because it limits me in many ways like for example I can't use public transport... I couldn't get work either. It was a sad phase of my life."
The comfort of distance learning, which allowed him to study from home, eventually enabled Emile to further his education:
"Then I found Oxbridge Academy. Wow! It changed my life. I can finally strive towards a better future. It suits my disability and everything is comfortable! I'm not financially stable but Oxbridge is so beautiful I can use my disability grant to pay my fees. I did very well in my first module already. Things are just getting greater for me. Winning this medal would inspire me more not to give up. To look past my present circumstances and reach for the stars."We are extremely proud to have Mathe Salome, Lizette Janse van Rensburg, and Emile Smith as part of the Oxbridge Academy family, and we are happy to present each of them with an Oxbridge Academy Medal for 'Succeeding Against the Odds' along with a Special Merit bursary to help them in their future studies with us.
The purpose of private colleges such as Oxbridge Academy is to give all South Africans the chance to empower themselves through skills development and vocational training - whatever their background, circumstances, or obstacles may be. At Oxbridge Academy, we want to do whatever we can to help our students - and future students - accomplish their goals. Find out more about Oxbridge Academy at www.oxbridgeacademy.edu.za.