‘Never stop believing in your dreams’

Ronalda Benjamin here with the SU Rector, Prof Russel Botman. (Photo: Anton Jordaan, SCPS)

Ronalda Benjamin has her eyes set firmly on a succesful future and won’t let anything get in her way. Ronalda, a previous winner of the Rector’s Award for Succeeding Against the Odds has received her BScHons (Mathemathical Sciences) cum laude during the recent graduation ceremonies.

She said getting to this point wasn’t always easy, but she is so thankful for making it this far.

The Rector’s Award for Succeeding Against the Odds is awarded to students whose performance is outstanding relative to the context within which their academic career has developed. The awards recognise the role that challenges such as disability, poverty and limited opportunities played in their achievements and offer recipients an opportunity to develop to their full academic potential.

Ronalda is taking a well-deserved break, but next year it’s back to the grindstone when she tackles her masters’ degree. When her masters’ is finished she will start on her doctorate. Part of her future plans is to stay on at the University as a lecturer.

This former learner of the Hoërskool Breërivier in Worcester grew up in an area that is known for gang violence and drug-related crime and is the first person in her family who has had the opportunity to study further. Her family has also experienced many financial challenges.

Ronalda has a number of achievements to be proud of. She had seven distinctions in matric and was also named Dux learner of her school. She was also Sportswoman of the Year in 2006 and was a member of the Junior South African u/19 volleyball team for the World Cup Tournament in Croatia.

Her achievements continued at Stellenbosch where she finished among the top 30 first-year students in her first year in 2007. She was also named top Financial Accounting student.

“I use the opportunities that are given to me and the circumstances in which I grew up only motivate me to do my best. My motto is: ‘I don’t look at the circumstances I’m in, but the circumstances I would like to be in’.”
For young people who are facing difficulties, but who want to build a solid future, she also has advice. “Never stop believing in your dreams. Keep on working hard, there’s always someone who will see how much effort you put in. I could have given up, but I never did. If you have the will, there will be a way.”