Washington beckons for five student leaders

21 April 2017 | Story by Yusuf Omar. Photos sawip.org

Five UCT students will head to Washington DC in June as part of a leadership programme that uses experiential learning and networking opportunities to help young South Africans realise their potential.

The five young leaders were recruited to the 11th cohort of the South Africa Washington International Program (SAWIP), along with 14 other students from local universities. According to SAWIP, the internship programme aims to develop and support “diverse new generations of emerging South African leaders to be active in bringing about social and economic transformation and justice within a sustainable democracy”.

SAWIP’s seven-month programme includes participating in community development projects, selection and orientation camps and a fundraising challenge. For many of the cohort, the six-week sortie to Washington DC is the highlight. Here, the students immerse themselves in the city by staying with host families, are introduced to luminaries in their fields and exchange ideas with peers from around the world.

Meet the 2017 UCT SAWIP cohort

Washington beckons for five student leadersPrecious Bikitsha

Precious Bikitsha

Bikitsha is in the final year of a BSocSc in anthropology, international relations and economic history. She’s been involved in radio since 2013 in various guises, first as a presenter and then a talk manager at UCT Radio. She has also held various leadership positions at UCT. Since her high-school days, she has been giving career and academic guidance to young people in Duncan Village in the Eastern Cape.

Washington beckons for five student leadersFowzia Davids

Fowzia Davids

Davids is reading for a master’s in development studies and holds a BSocSc(Hons) in international relations. Since being the deputy secretary-general of UCT’s Students’ Representative Council in 2013/2014, she has held various leadership positions at the university, including a stint as the outreach chair of the Muslim Students’ Association in 2015, where her focus was on female empowerment and education. She interned at the South African Liaison Office between 2014 and 2016, researching various issues related to democracy in southern Africa.

Washington beckons for five student leadersBlessed Arthur Ngwenya

Blessed Arthur Ngwenya

Ngwenya is a final-year BSc student majoring in physics and applied mathematics, which fits into his plan of becoming a nuclear physicist and being involved in solving South Africa’s energy crisis. He chairs the UCT Science Students’ Council and has worked with student outreach organisation SHAWCO. He is involved in many processes and projects that aim to address problems of access for current UCT students, including mentorship and addressing gender inequality, as well as being involved in providing academic support for underprivileged school learners.

Washington beckons for five student leadersKhanyiso Sangqu

Khanyiso Sangqu

After graduating with a BSocSc in political studies and international relations, Sangqu tackled a law degree, which he is on the verge of completing. As chair of social activist group InkuluFreeHeid-UCT and treasurer of the UCT chapter of the South African Students’ Congress, he strives to use his legal education as a tool for positive social change. In between his studies, he volunteers for the Constitutional Literacy and Service Initiative, which teaches constitutional literacy in disadvantaged communities.

Washington beckons for five student leadersJames van Duuren

James van Duuren

Van Duuren is a fifth-year medical student who has been volunteering for SHAWCO since his first week at UCT. He runs primary-care clinics serving thousands of patients every year and has served as head of a number of SHAWCO programmes, including its Simthandile clinic in Khayelitsha. He hopes to play a part in establishing primary healthcare systems that are accessible and affordable to disenfranchised communities, and hopes to become a leader in global healthcare.


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