Stuart Nhlathi, the overall winner of the 2007 Old Mutual, SABC and Sowetan Community Builder of the Year Award, is destined for bigger things in his chosen career as an inventor and innovator, as well as being a motivator.
Nhlathi, who is also a youth category winner, pipped other category winners: adult category winner Noriah Mabunda of Limpopo, senior section winner Maria Manoto of Gauteng and group category winner Motsilu Boima of Limpopo.
Aged only 20, Nhlathi blazed into the community development arena as a winner of the Young Community Shapers Award in 2004. Nhlathi also scooped the 2005 North West Youth Premier Awards for science.
At that time he was a high school pupil in Klerksdorp, North West. As you read this, Nhlathi is leading his own science, engineering and technology institute, aptly tagged the Stuart Nhlathi Institute of Science and Technology, at Matlosane, Klerksdorp.
Nhlathi came highly recommended to the 2007 Community Builder of the Year Award finals, after he had become the overall winner in the North West competition early this year.
He relishes being a leader and an inspiration to other youths. Nhlathi's institute helps to create and strengthen the public understanding of science, engineering and technology, as well as mathematics, in the communities.
Leading by example, Nhlathi is himself a rising innovator and inventor, with a signature invention - a 15-in-1 microwave oven - ranking among several of his creations, all aimed at making life easy for the modern family.
Nhlathi has said in a previous interview: "My vision is not to see my work in and through the institute benefit me alone, but to help all the young people in South Africa who love science and technology."
l Conceived by the late Sowetan Editor-in-Chief Aggrey Klaaste in 1991, the award recognises men and women who unselfishly give of their time and talent to improve the quality of life of others in their communities, thus highlighting how volunteers' efforts serve to motivate and inspire others to become part of the nation-building process.