At the University of Pretoria's recent Autumn Graduation Ceremony, Ms Emma Mashilo received the Chancellor’s Award for the best performance in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences (EMS).
While in matric at Willowridge High School in 2013, she applied for admission to the BCom Communications Management study programme at the University of Pretoria (UP). Unfortunately she was not accepted, but was placed in the BCom Extended Programme presented at the Mamelodi Campus, which is structured for students who are not ready to cope with the academic demands of a mainstream three-year BCom programme.
While completing the year-long Extended Programme, the courses she took included Statistics, Accounting and Business Management, for which she was credited. This led to her acceptance into the mainstream BCom degree programme.
Ms Mashilo explained that the Extended Programme runs at a slower pace than the mainstream degree, ‘so we did one semester in a year. The first quarter was challenging. I had to accept that I had been admitted to this programme and would therefore be adding an extra year to my study period. At the time it felt like a setback. I also experienced some academic challenges, particularly during the first quarter, but I persevered and in the second quarter things started improving.’
For Ms Mashilo, the main advantage of admission to the Extended Programme was the assistance she received from lecturers and tutors. ‘We were a smaller group, so we received more one-on-one assistance. At the end of the programme, I successfully applied for admission to the three-year course in Supply Chain Management, which I completed on UP’s Hatfield Campus. Looking back, I am incredibly grateful for the experience at the Mamelodi Campus and thankful to all my lecturers and tutors. I strongly believe that had not been for this programme, I would not be in the position in which I am now.’
In her final year, she achieved distinctions in Business Management, Supply Chain Management and International Business Management, and she ascribes her success to hard work and consistency. ‘I always made an effort to stay on top of my work … I never took anything for granted. This allowed me to perform well throughout the course and to obtain my degree with distinction. This is not to say that I did not experience any academic challenges, but I have learnt from my mistakes and have stood up and carried on. I cannot speak about my success without crediting my family and friends for their support throughout this period,’ she said.
With regards to the award, she confessed that she had been unaware of its existence, and that it came as a surprise and made her hard work worthwhile. However, she was very grateful as she realised that there are many other bright students who could have been considered for the award.
Prof Elsabe Loots, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, said: 'The Faculty is extremely proud that it could contribute to the achievement of a student of Emma’s calibre. It also demonstrates the success of the pathway created by the Extended Programme. We will follow Emma’s progress with great interest and wish her all the best.'
Ms Mashilo is currently studying for her honours degree in Business Management at UP and plans to enter the world of work next year.