One of our Fellows, Lerato Nxomani, was recently awarded a Mandela Rhodes Scholarship. This postgraduate scholarship is available to students from all over Africa. In order to qualify Lerato had to prove that she espouses the values of leadership, education, reconciliation and entrepreneurship – the strongest values of the patrons, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and Cecil John Rhodes.
Lerato will be studying an Honours degree in Economics at Rhodes University. This scholarship will cover her tuition, accommodation and books as well as a personal allowance. She will also have access to various leadership workshops throughout the year. The aim of these workshops is to create a sense of community among the Mandela Rhodes Scholars, build on existing leadership skills and develop vision for Africa.
The field of Economics interests Lerato because it offers her the opportunity to think deeply about what the South African economy needs to grow. Her thesis will explore the topics of skills development and unemployment among the youth. Her interest in the advancement of African youth becomes even clearer when she explains her reason for applying for the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship. “I identified strongly with the values the scholarship espouses and I wanted to be in community with fellow African students who had a vision to restore glory to our continent,” says Lerato.
The selection process is known to be long and challenging. Lerato submitted her initial application in May 2013 and was only invited to an interview in November of that year. After initial screening by the university, applicants must submit extensive personal references and a leadership essay. Applicants who make it through these rounds are then invited for an interview with various members of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation Board. Lerato explains that this application process allowed her to sharpen her vision for personally contributing to Africa’s empowerment and success. She also adds, “I’m especially grateful to Phumlani Nkontwana for his glowing recommendation!”
When asked about her plans for the future Lerato simply says, “I don’t know … But I’m excited about the path that God is taking me on and the path He is revealing for me to be of service to Him and bring Him glory.”