Over the past two weeks, we have been profiling the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust (OMT) Scholarship scheme administered by Career Wise and giving you some insight into the scheme itself and its beneficiaries. For the final instalment of the OMT profile this week, we sat down with a current OMT scholar to find out more about how the OMT scholarship has changed her academic journey and how the funding and support is helping her to fulfil her career aspirations.
Name: Tammy Ndabezitha
Tertiary Institution: WITS
Course of study: Bachelor of Accounting Sciences; currently doing Honours
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I completed high school at St. Barnabas College in Johannesburg and growing up I always aspired to be like my mother and go the banking route, which involved studying accounting. However, I attended a math and science focused school that didn’t offer accounting so my original plan changed and I decided I wanted to study music and drama. I loved going to auditions and participating in school productions and in Grade 11 I was offered a scholarship to the New York Film Academy. Unfortunately, the scholarship didn’t cover living expenses and I couldn’t accept it so I fell back to my initial plan and applied for accounting at a number of different universities.
Why did you choose your particular institution and course of study?
I was inspired by my mother to choose accounting as she has always been my motivation. She is a single mother who raised five kids and I wanted to make her happy and fulfil the dream we both shared when I was young. So, when I couldn’t go to New York, it made sense to pursue my original plan of accounting and I applied to study a Bachelor in Accounting Sciences. The decision to study at WITS was also influenced by my mother – she was at the WITS Business School at that stage and she loved it. That made it an easy decision.
How has being an OMT Scholar changed your university experience?
When I first started university, we took out a student loan but the interest payments were expensive so that gave me the motivation to get a bursary. Before I got funding, I was still living at home in Kempton Park, which meant I spent a lot of time commuting to campus. I would also have to stay at varsity late to avoid traffic and I used that time to study. That meant I didn’t have a lot of time for friends and I didn’t have much of a life outside of my studies. Once I got the scholarship, I could move into residence closer to campus which allowed me more time for social and extracurricular activities, and also to get more sleep!
What are you medium- and long-term career goals?
Last year I signed with EY to do my articles so my medium-term plans are to finish my articles there and maybe stay for another year or 2. In the longer-term, I’d like to support my sister with the foundation she started, which provides meals for students in Soweto, and help her with the financial aspect of the organisation. My brother has also started a company which helps low-income individuals get affordable funeral cover and I’d like to help him too with the skills I’ve gained. We really want to give back to the community and I’d like to give others the opportunities that I’ve had.
What has been the best aspect of being an OMT scholar?
As I mentioned, one of the best things is that the scholarship has allowed me to be closer to university and make time for other things, not just studying. The other great thing about being on a scholarship is that you receive an allowance, which I had never got before, and which has taught me how to manage my finances and budget properly. It’s like a real-life money management course that teaches you a very important skill and I know that will be very valuable once I start earning a salary.