Ms Lerato Tlokane is a second-year BCom (Financial Science) student at the University of Pretoria (UP) and one of the University's five recipients of Avanade's 15 for 15 Scholarship. The Programme will support five female UP students in their tertiary studies and aims to promote the enrolment of female students for degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The Programme is expected to benefit at least 45 students globally over the next five years, with the first 15 beneficiaries having been selected from UP, University College London and California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, USA.
Ms Tlokane, who hails from Nellmapius in Pretoria, is a former student of Jafta Mahlangu High School in Mamelodi West. She explains that not being able to afford tertiary education is very stressful, but that it was important to her that she pursues her studies as she was one of the top students in her class. Supported by her teachers at Jafta Mahlangu High School, she was able to register at UP with funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Unfortunately, like many students, she soon realised that her NSFAS bursary did not cover all her expenses. Avenade's 15 for 15 Scholarship will provide some welcome relief from the financial burden her studies have placed on her and her family.
'I have embraced some of the most unfortunate events of my life as inspiration and motivation to keep pushing for better results. You have to believe in yourself and that one day things will change for the better,' she says.
Ms Tlokane believes in making the best of the little she has, and in taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves. 'I refuse to aspire to anything less than greatness. I take advantage of every opportunity I am provided and have thereby proven my merit throughout the course of my life,' she adds.
She says that she will continue to work hard towards achieving her degree in financial science, while enjoying being a student at UP. 'When I tell people that I study at UP, they are impressed because they regard UP as very good institution that produces intelligent graduates,' she says proudly.
Lerato wishes to encourage young women in the townships never to give up on their dreams, regardless of where they come from or the circumstances of their upbringing. 'The future looks bright. If you believe in yourself and work hard towards your goals, you can achieve anything,' she concludes.