College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

Ms Cebile Hlongwane receives her award from Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, CAPRISA Associate Scientific Director

Master’s in Genetics student, Ms Cebile Hlongwane, is this year’s proud recipient of the prestigious Emma Smith Overseas Scholarship.

The Emma Smith Overseas Scholarship, funded by the family of C.G Smith and named after Mrs C.G Smith, provides top-performing female postgraduate students resident in eThekwini an opportunity to study abroad.

Earlier this year, Hlongwane obtained her Forensics Genetics BSc Honours degree cum laude.

Her Master’s research is on antimicrobial resistance in livestock and focuses on examining the prevalence of staphylococcus aureus in livestock in KZN as well as the screening for the virulent and resistant strains of the bacterium.

Passionate about Biology, she has always shown an eager interest in life sciences since her early days as a Durban Girls High School pupil. Her interest later blossomed into a love for Biology during undergraduate days at UKZN.

‘It was under my Life Sciences teacher’s encouragement at Durban Girls High School that I pursued Biology as a career as I was very good at it and I was naturally inquisitive when it came to the subject,’ explained Hlongwane.

Hlongwane expressed gratitude and excitement in being awarded the scholarship, thanking the donors.  ‘Thank you for believing and investing in my dreams. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am glad that I was a fitting candidate. Coming from humble beginnings, I believe this scholarship will open doors that I didn’t think could open for me. It essentially means I’ve been given a platform on the world stage where I can harness the necessary skills that I need to progress and submerge into an international level where I can further broaden my horizon,’ she said.

Elaborating, Hlongwane said she has no plans of slowing down her momentum of academic success, saying this is only a start to greater things to come. ‘I am going to study regenerative medicine in the UK next year. This is a course very close to my heart as stem cell research has very promising prospects especially for the treatment and potential cures of chronic illnesses such as HIV and diabetes. I hope to gather research skills which I can come back and transfer to South Africa, both as an academic and a scientist,’ she said.

Ms Hlongwane’s mother, Ms Nomfundo Qondani, expressed delight in her daughter’s achievement as well as gratitude to the scholarship donors.  ‘Thank you for giving my child this opportunity. I am so proud of her. I hope she continues to excel in her studies. I hope that this serves as encouragement to other young people and students that there is a reward for working hard and that focusing on education is very important. An educated child is a powerful child,’ said Qondani.

Words: Zolile Duma

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal