For those of you who are on Facebook, you would have noticed what an  exciting past few months it’s been for IkamvaYouth, as we celebrated Ikamvanites who graduated from various institutions across the country. Among those who were graduating this year, was Sikelelwa Mashiyi, from the Masiphumelele branch (matric 2011). We caught up with her for a Q&A, to tell us about this fantastic achievement, what she’s up to now, as well as about her exciting trip to the United States of America! 

IY: In 5 words or less, tell us who is Sikelelwa?

SM: Happy, awesome. Enthusiastic, go-getter, loving

IY: Can you briefly tell us about your IkamvaYouth journey? 

SM: I was one of the few learners that were part of Ikamva youth in Masiphumelele when it started in 2009. I have to say that I am blessed to have been part of that program it helped me grow academically and personally. Academically; with all those afternoon classes we had, and also the winter school called Careers Indaba; where we got the opportunity to meet people in the business sector telling us how what we need to get obtain in order to get to University and the skills we need to learn in order to get to the work place. Personally, I was able to talk infront of people, so I got a lot of confidence from Ikamva. Also making long and lasting friends from the people that we interacted with within Ikamva in Masi and other branches. I also always enjoyed when we went to perform in Makhaza, I remember always dancing with a friend of mine called Zintle Mtakati and everyone used to cheer for us. We were called the twins….ahhhhh those days were greats

IY: What have you learnt from your university experience, that you’d like to share with other Ikamvanites?

SM: What I have learnt Is that you do not need to be rich to get to University, there are many ways in hich the school can support you financially and academically. Working hard pays off, we all know that school is not the best sometimes but we need to stay consistent and work hard the school will notice you. English does not determine your intelligence; you do not have to be the best English speaker for you to excel in University. Just do what you do best and God will do the rest. Ask, consult if you do not know, do not die in silence. 

IY: What advice would you like to share with other Ikamvanites who are still in matric/pursuing their tertiary studies?

SM: Never give up on your dreams, do not let anything stand in your way. I received at Diploma during my grade 12 in 2011. I had to take a gap year and work as a debt collector, but I told myself that my life belongs in the University so I rewrote some subject and got my B and today I am proud to say that I am one of the best honours Anthropologists in my class. I went to the states last year, and I was selected as a best fellow, competing with schools from the states, such as More House and Spelman College. I received a Humphrey Award for being the best consistent student in the Sociology/Anthropology department from first year till third year. I have been in the dean’s list and I was one of the few black students that got a Cum Laude for my degree.

IY: Now that you’ve graduated, is there anything that you’re glad you did, or wish you had done?

SM: I am glad I never gave up and just stayed at the debt collector because of money. I am glad I pushed myself to where I am today. I wished I would have still been dancing but because of circumstance I have not danced which is a passion of mine.

IY: You graduated caume laude! For those who may not know, what does this mean? And what advice do you have for other Ikamvanites hoping to achieve similar academic success?

SM: I graduated Cum Laude yes. Well this means that I got an A average overall for my final year. To get an A average you have to get 75% and above and if you want to be a Sum Cum laude which was a wish of mine but I always got an A average for my first semester and never second semester I could not achieve this; you have to get an A average from first year until your final year; meaning 75+ from first year until final year. So you need to an A average for the whole year and not just the semester.

IY: You’re now pursuing post-grad studies, and jetting off to the United States! tell us about this exciting development!

SM: 2014- I volunteered to work for the HIV/ AIDS unit and worked as a peer educator within my school and I also mentored 10 students at Steenberg High school. We were teaching the University student about safe sex and I was teaching my high school students about gender roles. I did this for the whole year and still excelled in my academics. Got invited to the Deans ceremony for the second time, second year first semester. Clearly first semester loved me because second semester I would always need a 1% to get to the deans. I was invited to my Steenberg’s Matric valedictory and I was asked to make a speech. I did not prepare anything because I was only told that night, but because of my experience I knew how to motivate them. 2015- I volunteered to be a Mentor for first year students so that I would be able to assist them to adapt to University life, socially and academically. This time I am doing my final year as an undergrad. Anyways to my surprise I did not know passing to much would get me to apply for a scholarship called Mellon Mays Undergraduate scholarship. There were 155 students all together to apply for this scholarship and they only choose 5 every year, I couldn’t believe that I got selected. At this point I was not sure what I would major in during my honours year. I was doing a triple major in Psychology, Anthropology and Sociology. For the purpose of the scholarship I chose to do Anthropology. Now I have this prestigious scholarship and the same year June It took us to the states to represent our school. The 5 of us went to Atlanta at Emory University. We stayed there for a month for a school boot camp. We had an opportunity to go to New York as well. We had to present our rsearch proposals at the last week of the month and after that myself and another student from the states got selected as Fellows for the year. I am still not sure what that means but I was happy.

Congrats Siki, we’re so proud of all you’ve achieved. All the best with the postgrad studies!