‘Jump at your chances’

Keshia Urias, a second-year science student at the University of Cape Town, explores Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens during an outing with Trevor Manuels Mitchells Plain Bursary and Role Model Trust.

Former finance minister Trevor Manuel has urged university students to “grab opportunities with both hands” as they navigate the world outside of school.

Mr Manuel was speaking to about 60 students who are receiving financial aid from the Mitchell’s Plain Bursary and Role Model Trust, an organisation which he co-founded in 2010.

The trust gathered at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on Saturday October 20 where students took part in a scavenger hunt before a bus trip to Hout Bay and along the Atlantic Seaboard to learn more about Cape Town and its history.

But while the day was essentially about letting their hair down before end-of-year exams, Mr Manuel reminded the group that, in addition to providing financial assistance to deserving students, the trust aims to equip them with “life skills they would be able carry forward” in a very challenging and competitive world.

“Across the world we are seeing that young people are worse off than their parents have been. One of the big challenges, even if you’re a young professional, is ‘where will we live, how do you afford accommodation, how do you get on in life’,” he said.

This was a worldwide issue for young people, he said “ unless you know how to grab opportunities”. The obstacles to success were not insurmountable he said and there are many examples of successful professionals who grew up in Mitchell’s Plain and were now role models for the next generation.

Keshia Urias from Beacon Valley, a second-year biochemistry student at the University of Cape Town UCT) said it was in matric at Spine Road High in Rocklands that she learnt of the opportunity to get financial aid from the trust.

She jumped at the chance because being raised by a single parent would have made tertiary studies very difficult. “With the help of the Mitchell’s Plain Bursary and Role Model Trust, I don’t have to worry too much about paying for my studies and I can focus on getting my degree,” she said.

The outing to Kirstenbosch would help to ease the stress of preparing for her upcoming exams, she said.

For many of the students, it was their first visit to Kirstenbosch.

Reflecting on the country’s legacy, Mr Manuel told the group to plough back into the community. “Already other people are looking up to you,” he said.

For more information about the Mitchell’s Plain Bursary and Role Model Trust, visit www.mpbursarytrust.org.za