Ms Mishka Essop receives her award from UKZN Chief Financial Officer, Ms Nontuthuko Mbhele.

Ms Mishka Essop, a student in the School of Life Sciences, has received the College Deputy Vice-Chancellors’ Scholarship Award, a scholarship that has enabled her to continue her studies.

The College Deputy Vice-Chancellors’ Scholarship awards- which recognise top performance over two or more years of undergraduate study- are awarded to the three top ranked undergraduates in each college proceeding from second to subsequent years of study. As such, Essop, who is final-year BSc Life and Earth Sciences (LES) student, is of one three top-ranked undergraduate students in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES).  She has excelled throughout her academic journey, attaining distinction passes.

Throughout her schooling career, Essop, recalls being overly enthused by science which led her to pursue her higher education studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

‘Whether it was learning about the Doppler Effect in physics class or delving into human evolution and speciation in life sciences, it (life sciences) has never ceased to be fascinating. My inquiring mind has always sought out the hows and whys, and what better degree to have studied than a Bachelor of Science for which curiosity is vital. And why would I choose to pursue a BSc at any other institute other than a leading South African university like UKZN?’ said Essop.

Grateful for her scholarship award, she said it reflects her numerous sacrifices and hard work in her degree studies.

‘I am very appreciative of this award. It has been an acknowledgement of the many hours of studying, sacrifices, tremendous amount of hard work invested in my degree studies as well as a validation of my grit’ she said.

Recalling some of the hardships she had to overcome to get to her current position, Essop said she is grateful for all encounters as they have led her where she is today. ‘The greatest challenges I’ve experienced in regards to my university studies was the amount of sacrifices it took perform at my best. Furthermore, my parents have always worked jobs that require long hours and it is very difficult to juggle chores at home and university work. It was also very difficult to acquire funding in my first-year of study, however, with hard work, I managed to obtain a scholarship from UKZN. ‘I’m enthusiastic about vying for my Honours degree next year and excel in that too,’ she said.

Mishka’s mother, Mrs Monica Essop, said her daughter’s scholarship has been a wonderful blessing. ‘Other than being a major financial relief, it has motivated Mishka to constantly work hard and do her very best’ she said.

Words: Zolile Duma

Photographer: Rajesh Jantilal