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Access To Success 2017 Zandile Gqada

UWC works at greater Access to Success for students

It is an everyday reality: no matter how well-prepared and determined students may be to succeed, the financial demands of studying can derail their quest for higher education. That’s why the University of the Western Cape (UWC) has launched its Access to Success 2017 Campaign, to help deserving students overcome their financial challenges.

Khayelitsha-born Zandile Gqada is one of those deserving students being afforded Access to Success.

She studies  BCom General, majoring in Information Systems, a four-year programme she’s hoping to finish at the end of this year.

“I chose UWC because it’s home to me, and I know I enjoy a high quality of education,” she says. “And I chose Information Systems because I have an undying passion for this career; anything that involves working with people and coming up with solutions to problems comes naturally to me.”

Zandile has faced more than her share of challenges while studying: losing her father, Lizo (the family breadwinner, and one of her greatest supporters); attempting to work a part-time job at a clothing retail company (and sacrificing her study time to do it); falling pregnant (which definitely doesn’t make it easier to study). When she failed her second year, she realized something had to change.

“I realized that trying to work a part-time job while studying simply isn’t practical,” she remarks. “I stopped working and chose to concentrate and work harder on my studies, even if it meant I had to do without the money. And access to money was and still is a challenge for me as it is hard sometimes to come to campus because my mother doesn’t always have money, asshe is  a pensioner.”

At some point she even considered dropping out of the university - but her faith in God, combined with student counselling at campus, brought her back.

“I  never got discouraged,” Zandile says. “Instead I took courage, because I needed to finish my studies so I can improve my circumstances. And at my worst point God guided me by revealing to me that He is the father to the fatherless and that I should trust Him and go ahead with my studies - which I did.”

Zandile, who celebrated her 25th birthday the day before National Women’s Day, is currently staying with her mother and four-month-old son, Landile.  She almost can’t believe she has reached her final year of study.

“My fondest memory of UWC will always be passing,” she says laughing. “And the occasional good news when a bursary comes along, of course. Also helping my fellow students where I can.”

She dreams of working as an information systems programmer for one of the major oil and gas companies one day,  like Engen - a complex place with lots of different concerns and career options .?? “I hope I find a job through which I can live out my love for problem-solving, my creativity and my keen interest in innovation. And one that helps me pay off the study debt I have left, of course.”

But first, she’s planning to complete an Honours in Information Systems in 2018. “In IS I’m free to express myself. I’m not afraid to come out of my comfort zone to mix with others and learn more.”??

“The Access to Success campaign has made a real and significant difference in my life. I have already received R9 000 through it,” says Gqada. “I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life, and I thank everyone involved.”

Access To Success 2017: Helping Others Grow From Hope To Action

The 2016 Access To Success phonathon programme involved 50 students calling UWC alumni from across South Africa with the aim of reconnecting, updating their contact details and raising funds to address student fees needs as part of the Access To Success campaign. The campaign exceeded all expectations, having raised over R1,6 million in pledges in three weeks - the target was R1million in five weeks - and also brought on board 557 new alumni and staff givers.

This year the phonathon kicked off on 7 August and will continue until 31 August 2017.

Samantha Castle, Manager of UWC’s Alumni Relations Office, says the success of the initiative was due to the collective efforts of all students and staff who participated in the initiative, as well as partners, the SABC and donors - both alumni and staff.

“Last year the focus was on calling on alumni, staff, corporates and friends of the University to assist students by donating,” she says. “This year we’re extending this invitation to the wider public - and hopefully helping even more students in the process.”

So far, 93 students have benefited from Access To Success - and students can apply for funding through UWC’s Financial Aid Office. To make a contribution, whether a monthly debit order or once-off donation,  or for more information about the #AccessToSuccess campaign, please contact Ms Somayah Barnes at or visit