Avanade 15 for 15 Scholarship opens up a world of opportunities

Posted on June 13, 2016

'I was at home in Kokstad, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) when I found out that I had been awarded the Avanade 15 for 15 Scholarship. It was the happiest moment of my life and I was so happy to share that moment with my family at home. It felt surreal. I couldn't believe that I had been chosen out of so many amazing young ladies. I was torn between tears and laughter and they ended up just coming out at the same time,' says Ms Sharné Werner, a second year Financial Science student at the University of Pretoria (UP). Ms Werner is  a former student of  Kokstad College in KZN, which she still holds in high regard as it was there that her realisation of her potential and her belief in herself were nurtured.  

Ms Werner is 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 Werner says that she still can't believe that she has been awarded the scholarship and all the opportunities that come with it. She worked throughout both her first year and second year to assist her parents with the expenses that come with good quality tertiary education. 'Tertiary education is expensive and I have learnt that it is really not a right but a privilege,' she says. It hasn't been easy, but Ms Werner says it is never a burden, because she knows that in the end it will all be worth it.

Ms Werner is grateful for the support that she has received from UP and acknowledges that she wouldn't have been awarded this scholarship had it not been for the University. She says, 'If it wasn't for the University I wouldn't have received this scholarship in the first place. UP gave my name to Avanade and they have made my dream possible. Not just my dream, but so many other possibilities now too. I am so thankful to the University because without this scholarship I don't know if continuing with my studies this year would have been possible. Ms Werner says that the timing of the scholarship award was amazing, as it came just before she was about to make a very hard decision concerning her future studies.

'I enjoy knowing that there are endless possibilities and that at the end of my journey at the University I will be a better me. I enjoy the feeling of freedom and the freedom to grow at UP,' she adds.

Ms Werner also extends her gratitude to Avanade for this opportunity and firmly states that she will work hard to continue to prove that she is deserving of the scholarship. 'I recently met members of the Avanade group at our signing ceremony. They were all so friendly and honestly felt like family; family that is encouraging us and supporting us and who want us to succeed. In the same way as I want to make my biological family proud, I want to make Avanade proud as well,' she says.

Ms Werner wants to encourage young people, and especially young women, to never give up and to stand together and help one another, because when united anything can be conquered. 'Amazing things happen to ordinary people. It takes time but don't give up. No matter what you are going through there will always be a silver lining. Just look at my story,' she concludes.


- Author Mikateko Mbambo

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