Wiseman Mavuso was one of the 39 students, across three universities in the South African National Roads Agency (SOC) Limited’s Western Region, to be awarded a bursary in 2015/16.
Mavuso is tackling his dreams head-on and has some advice for other young people: “Work hard.”
From grades one to seven, Mavuso emerged and maintained his position as the top student in his school. Upon starting high school, learners from other areas meant new and tougher competition and Mavuso realised that he would have to up his game.
He earned the status of maths fundi and was most disappointed when he did not achieve 100% in his final maths exam. He had to be satisfied with 93%.
But his achievements came despite having no maths and science teachers at his school. Saturday programmes he attended at other schools had helped.
His interest in civil engineering began when he noticed that a new road in Mpumalanga had massive potholes less than three months after it had been completed.
Mavuso started wondering how this had happened. Who was responsible? What materials were used? How could this be avoided in future?
So at the tender age of 18, Mavuso, who had never ventured beyond KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, set off on a bus to the Mother City to enrol at the University of Cape Town for an engineering degree.
With no friends and no financial support from family, this tenacious young man put one foot in front of the other and started building his dream, one brick at a time.
He had applied for several bursaries and was delighted to be offered an interview by SANRAL, making sure he arrived thoroughly prepared. His preparation paid off – he was awarded the coveted bursary.
“Being awarded a SANRAL bursary has taken enormous strain off my shoulders and I can now channel 100% of my energy into striving for academic excellence,” said the humble Mavuso.
If the 94% he achieved for engineering mechanics in his first year is anything to go by, academic excellence is most certainly what this young man is all about.
His mother’s role
Asked about the family he left back home, he said his mother is undoubtedly his rock. She supported him and encouraged him to dream, work and persevere. Her years of nurturing have also instilled in him the desire to help others.
Even with a heavy workload, he finds the time to mentor and tutor other students in maths.
Now in his second year of study, Mavuso’s scope of interest is already widening and his new fascination is exceptionally tall structures, the likes of which are found in opulent cities like Dubai.
He has no immediate plans to set off beyond the borders of South Africa, though.
Instead, he said, he’d like to take lessons from the rest of the world’s engineering and apply them to new developments in South Africa.
“Who knows? I may just be involved in the design of multi-level tunnels in the future,” he said.