The world awaits Thandi Hlotshana

Issued by North West University
North-West, Oct 21, 2019

Thandi Hlotshana is about to see the world. Hailing from the East Rand, the bubbly 23-year-old, who is a final-year BA student in industrial psychology and labour relations at the North-West University (NWU), has been awarded the Abe Baily Bursary - one of only 18 recipients in the country.

On 24 November, she will leave South Africa's shores for the first time in a trip that will see her visit Addis Ababa in Ethiopia for three days, then London for three days and Scotland for five, before returning to London for a debriefing session.

"I am absolutely excited. I can't wait to experience the different perspectives, the different cultures and the different backgrounds. I can't wait to see the world!" exclaims Hlotshana.

Recipients were chosen from 22 universities and requirements for the bursary included a good academic record, community work and strong leadership skills.

Although reluctant to admit so, it is a bill she fits perfectly, having been involved in community work from an early age. For as long as she can remember, Hlotshana has been visiting orphanages, homes for the elderly, and she is also a peer helper at Student Counselling and Development.

Leadership, though, is her forte. "Leadership is about having integrity and knowing what is right. It is about not being deterred from your mission. Our leaders in South Africa must start to understand that leadership is not a popularity contest. It is about doing what is right and not what is based on your personal feelings," she explains enthusiastically.

At the NWU's campus in Vanderbijlpark, she found an outlet for her passion. "It has been a blessing to be able to study at a university that has allowed me to develop my leadership potential and to explore the various avenues that our university offers."

And now, a few years later, it is au revoir South Africa.

"My mom was shocked! She said: 'My darling, you've never been abroad. I'm thrilled for you, but England is cold and you know how you get.'"

Inclement weather and a strange new world. Bring on the challenges because Hlotshana is ready to learn and won't shy away from any task ahead.

"I want to encourage everyone to never count themselves out. Change your mindset. Surround yourself with people who don't see you as you are now, but how and where you will be in five years' time."

And, what does her future hold?

"I see myself in parliament," she says without hesitation. "I want to inspire people to reach beyond their boundaries. Don't count yourself out," she repeats before continuing: "Think beyond our borders. The world awaits us."