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UCT Student Overcomes Odds With Help From The Student In Distress Fund

Graduations are celebrations, but few realise the struggles that many students face in getting across the finish line. One such student is Nkululeko Dlamini, who overcame multiple difficulties to complete his engineering studies at the University of Cape Town.

UCT student overcomes multiple odds to graduate – with a little help from the Student in Distress Fund


When the third-year student was found sleeping in an engineering lab – thin, hungry and penniless with his meagre belongings crammed into a small backpack – no one could guess how things might turn out for him.

However, the Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment (EBE) ‘distress funds’ can make all the difference to students like Dlamini.

As a child, Dlamini attended a poorly resourced school, east of Johannesburg, where he was part of a feeding scheme. When he came to UCT, he struggled with English and the death of his mother which was a huge setback. Without financial resources, he was sure he would never graduate. However, the EBE’s Student in Distress Fund and an academic mentor, Ernesto Ismail, enabled him to put his life back together and complete his studies.

Sometimes it’s a fee deficit as small as R6 000 that stands between a student being able to graduate and stalling at the finish line.

Dlamini, who now works for a state owned national energy utility entity, thanked the faculty for everything and for playing big role in his life.

“Today I am the person I am because the Faculty believed in me. This is the beginning of my career and I will grab the opportunity with both hands and ensure that I will continue developing myself to become one of the greatest leaders in the country,” says Dlamini.

The Student in Distress Fund plays an important role in the engineering faculty.



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