Ms Shongani Dladla, a third-year Education student is the proud recipient of the prestigious UKZN Distinguished Leadership Award which rewards and recognises students with outstanding academic achievement together with excellence in community engagement or exceptional university service as reflected in the University’s vision, mission and goals.

She was recognised recently for her poetic genius by Sakha Isizwe Ngomuntu Wesifazane Global Organisation (SINW).

Dladla, who hails from Nkandla said: ‘Both these awards are directed at the goals I have, they are a confirmation that I am indeed bringing change to many lives. My family, especially my mother, is so supportive and proud. She is always the first person I call when I have exciting news. I have been scared of celebrating my achievements but I have learned that celebrating your smallest achievements could be someone’s inspiration.’

Dladla had to go through many obstacles to be where she is today. Her life’s story speaks hope and authentic transformation as she comes from a disadvantaged background and was raised by a single parent.

‘To the other students, be passionate about your career choices. Embrace your challenges because they will push you to become a great person. Find strength in your passions and use that to push yourself when the going gets tough. Keep working towards your goal. Because one day you will look back and be proud of the progress you’ve made,’ she advised.

Words and photograph: Nkululeko Mbatha