Tandza was the recipient of the Royal Holloway – Waterford Kamhlaba UWCSA Excellence Scholarship, set up between her school in Swaziland and Royal Holloway. As she graduates with a BSc in Management, she tells us what the opportunity has meant to her.
When I was 12, I went to Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa, a boarding school in Swaziland which exposed me to different perspectives, tolerance and different ways of thinking. It was an amazing seven years of my life which were pivotal to moulding me, and put me on my journey to Royal Holloway.
I was studying Higher Physics, Higher Maths and Higher Economics and knew that I wanted to pursue a finance or business-related degree, so I started looking at courses in South Africa and the UK. The tricky thing was that I needed to get funding. That was when my guidance counsellor told me about the new scholarship at Royal Holloway. He had studied here – and I found out that my close friend’s dad had too. When I looked into the courses I could see that it was something that I could do, so that’s how I got hooked on the dream.
I was at home the day the email finally arrived after six months of waiting. I didn’t want to open it on my own so I called my dad and he came home and opened the email. I’d got it! We were so excited. It was surreal. Everyone was so proud and it was also a huge financial load off them and they could focus the finances on my younger brother.
Four months later, in September 2015, I arrived at Royal Holloway. It was such a strange feeling: on one hand, I thought it was amazing, but it was also the first time that I’d ever left the African continent. After the initial excitement died down, everything started to sink in. I thought: ‘right, it’s just you and the world, girl’.
I’ve made the most of the opportunities I’ve had at Royal Holloway. I’ve played basketball for the past three years and we’ve won the London Schools Cup and the BUCS Cup semi-finals. I’ve been the Volunteering and Opportunities Secretary for the team as well.
The experience has been everything that I wanted it to be: I’ve grown mentally, my confidence is better and I’ve grown more into the person that I had hoped I would be. It’s easy to feel confident when you’re in your comfort zone – it’s only when you’re out of it that you start to learn who you really are. I think you have to fake it till you make it, and in the end, I made it. My confidence now is truly me, it’s not something that depends on which environment I’m in.
There’s so much power that you have over your own life, regardless of your circumstances – you can always do more than you think you can.
I don’t think my dream job exists so I’m going to need to create it. Ideally, I’d like to end up in the FinTech world, trying to empower Swazi women financially. Women in Swaziland are the backbone of the country; women who have little shops and manage to put food on the table and send their children to school. If those women had access to real capital, and the collaboration between small and medium business enterprises could be increased, there is so much that we could benefit from.
Being awarded the Waterford Kamhlaba Scholarship of Excellence to study at Royal Holloway has taught me a lot about myself. It’s taught me about timing and opportunity and staying ready, so that when the opportunities that you’ve been dreaming of arrive, you are able to step up to the plate.
It’s also taught me that you can handle much more than you think you can. There’s so much power that you have over your own life, regardless of your circumstances – you can always do more than you think you can. If there’s something that you want then there’s absolutely nothing that should stop you from getting it.
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