Three UKZN graduates have been awarded Fulbright Scholarships to undertake doctoral studies at various universities in the United States (US).
They are Ms Mantwa Madiba, Mr Sduduzo Mncwabe and Ms Samiksha Singh.
Madiba who will study towards her PhD in Tax Law at Wake Forest University in North Carolina in the US, said she was excited, privileged and honoured to be awarded the scholarship.
Her doctoral work involves a comparative study between South Africa and the US on income from illegal pyramid schemes. She said she is anxious about what to expect and whether she will be able to cover everything in three years, but also very excited about getting the opportunity to further her studies.
Madiba, who graduated from UKZN in April with a Master’s degree in Taxation, was part of the nGAP transformation programme initiated by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) to help universities recruit new academics in line with staffing and development plans.
She said she is passionate about teaching and is looking forward to doing more research on how other countries deal with underprepared students. She said at times she also felt underprepared as a lecturer especially because she teaches through technology. She believes lecturers also need to employ a student-centred approach.
Madiba who took her five-year-old son, Tsakane Manyike with, said she is blessed to have a support system in the US as both her niece and her sister are in North Carolina and Seattle respectively.
Mncwabe is reading for a Doctorate in Development Psychology at the University of Rochester in New York for the next five-years. ‘I will expand on my leadership development and I hope to return to community service initiatives such as my involvement with the KwaZulu-Natal NGO, Action in Autism.’
He said he is excited about exploring different places and cultures, and meeting new people from around the world. ‘It is a chance to build up professional and social networks that will have a lifelong benefit.’
While in the US Mncwabe says he plans to actively pursue the cultural exchange aspect of the Fulbright programme. ‘I will obviously learn a lot about American academia and culture but I will also be an ambassador for South Africa and the various schools I have attended such as Mthintanyoni Primary School, Donnybrook Primary School, and Ixopo High School and, of course, my alma mater, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and the various Department of Health hospitals I have worked for including RK Khan Hospital.’
Singh, who will read for a PhD in Environmental Science with a focus on micro plastic pollution in rivers, said she felt fortunate and thankful for receiving the scholarship as it was an opportunity of a lifetime which she plans to make the most of.
She said a degree from the University of California, Riverside, will set her apart in terms of career development. ‘I am excited about the opportunities this degree will bring.
‘I hope to come back with a world view especially around environmental issues and to not only identify environmental problems but find solutions for them as well. I hope that what I discover will assist with issues we might be facing here at home, especially in terms of water pollution as it is a scarce resource and an important source of life. An improvement in water quality will be beneficial for everyone,’ added Singh.
Words: Sithembile Shabangu