In her final entry, Yolanda Mussana talks about mentorship and the way in which women role models paid it forward for her, by mentoring her with heart. Whilst MiHeart allocates bursaries and learning equipment to students and schools, it was the ongoing support and guidance from mentors that made all the difference in her life, more specifically, her university life.
Former Maphutha High School learner, currently in her final year of studies, Yolanda says these relationships offered the building blocks she needed to support her, and to build her confidence and self-esteem.
In Yolanda’s words: "The personal mentorship I received from when I was in Grade 12 was important in helping me to prepare for university, which is so different from school. I didn’t realise it would be emotionally and mentally challenging, and how vulnerable I would feel in a new environment. The relationship I had with my MiWay mentor changed everything though, as we spoke constantly about anything and everything, and I felt secure enough to be myself. This really helped to prepare me for varsity, because I didn't have any idea of what to expect. Turns out that varsity was very different from school; classes were much longer, and it was difficult to manage my time. But thanks to my mentor, I think I handled it all a lot better than my classmates, which definitely gave me a head start.
"Reflecting today on my journey, I realise that there’s a lot more to mentorship than ‘just advice’. It gives you the license to dream big and to aim higher, and I was constantly inspired by my female mentors, who were living proof that anything is possible, and they helped pave the way for me to achieve my own goals. Once I graduated from the mentorship programme, it became important for me to take part in MiWay’s Leaders in the Making Programme as a mentor myself. I have seen and experienced the positive effects it can have on learners, and believe in the concept of paying it forward. Having other women role models is fundamental for young students, who can learn so much from those who have already broken barriers and can impart crucial wisdom. As they say, if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. I’m so grateful to live in a country where this spirit of ubuntu is still alive and well.”
These sentiments are shared by fellow MiHeart bursary holder, Itumeleng Mnisi, currently studying financial management, whose mentorship journey with Nthabiseng Moloi, MiWay's executive head of people and brand, proved incredibly valuable in shaping her success.
In Yolanda's words: "Speaking with Itumeleng, I realised that many people have had similar experiences, learning and growing profoundly thanks to the inspiration provided by strong female mentors. Itumeleng's relationship with Nthabiseng is extremely important to her, and they have become very close over the past three years, speaking regularly on the phone or via WhatsApp. Itumeleng is quite introverted, and at a certain point didn't even want to go to university, but Nthabiseng continued to provide encouragement and support, pushing her to open up, speak up and see the bigger picture. She took heart from Nthabiseng's journey, which gave her the necessary inspiration to carry on, and to keep asking questions so as to learn as much as possible. It's really inspiring for me to hear other stories like this, and to realise that there are many amazing women out there who are willing to give of themselves despite their busy lives to uplift others."
Mentorship is one of the fundamental cornerstones of MiHeart’s Leaders in the Making Programme, and is supported by female volunteers from the MiWay team, who give tirelessly of their time and expertise to guide mentees in the pursuit of their hopes and dreams. Mologadi Kekana, head of alternative distribution at MiWay, is one such volunteer, who draws on her extensive experience to guide learners through the ups and downs associated with university life.
In Mologadi’s words: "Mentorship is extremely important, especially as a woman in any corporate environment. My own progress can be attributed in large to the mentorship I received at the start of my career. Having someone there willing to guide, advise, listen and correct me where necessary enabled me to grow and mature, and furthermore to realise that no dream was off limits. As a black female, it was also fundamental to have a role model and to this day I still have many women who inspire and mentor me in one way or another. Of course, each of us is responsible for our own journey, but I don't believe I would be where I am today without the advice and counsel I received from many inspirational women."
Stories such as Yolanda’s serve to highlight the real need for female mentorship in a country where glass ceilings still need to be shattered. The additional support provided by mentors willing to share their stories and offer ongoing moral support can make a key difference when it comes to turning dreams into reality.
MiWay is a licensed non-life insurer and Financial Services Provider (FSP 33970).