“Students were funded by external financial bursaries, UWC bursaries, UWC loans or TEFSA. For those who had no financial aid, their challenge was getting up and standing in queues from 6am for bursaries or loans. Students with outstanding fees could register the following year provided they passed or even [carried outstanding fees] until they completed their studies,” she says.
She remembers that the student community was very welcoming during her time on campus. But there were challenges too, such as student accommodation, with a waiting list of two years before you could get to stay in campus residences. She says, “Squatting was very common and I was also a squatter. Three to four people would stay in a single room. People who had access to the dining hall had no problem in assisting those who were squatting with meals. You did not have to know anybody, people were willing to lend a hand.”
She says despite the challenges students were humble and there were no boycotts, burning down or demolishing university property in protests.
“Life back then on campus was totally different to the challenges the students are facing currently. The struggles were there, but that did not stop students from pressing on despite financial difficulties and striving to achieve their goals.”
Among the lessons she took from UWC were to never give up in life and to continue to press on until there was a breakthrough. “And it is never too late to try anything,” says Nyingwa.
Nyingwa graduated from UWC with a bachelor of commerce degree and is presently working in the private sector as a management accountant. She has joined the UWC Alumni Association and contributes a portion of her salary to bursaries for students in need because she says, “In the times that we live in, the scholarships are limited and post-school funding is not in abundance as it was in the early ’80s and ’90s.”
Nyingwa believes she has not reached the peak of her career aspirations and is considering returning to further her studies on a part-time basis.