Make most of your chances

Tumelo Sibanda

Tumelo Sibanda

It all began in 2003 when I was in Grade 7 at Igagasi Primary School in Ekurhuleni.

I had always known that there was more to my life than just school work. So I took an interest in other activities in school such as acting, public speaking, debates and aerobics.

While most of my primary school friends opted for "model C" schools in the suburbs, I decided to go to Ponego instead, a township school in Katlehong, despite having the same opportunity to study at a highbrow institution.

I became the first Grade 8 pupil to be part of the school's representative council of learners. Then I joined the school's debate, public speaking and acting societies.

This instantly made me a very busy and respected pupil because only a few children in township schools take part in extramural activities and still maintain a very high standard in their school work.

In Grade 10 my passion for acting grew enormously and I joined a professional institution, the Katlehong art centre.

Even with my new-found love for art, I still prospered in debates and made it to the provincials of the Department of Education's high schools debating competition.

In 2007 I reached new heights when I represented Gauteng at the national finals of the Young Communicators Awards.

I also got my first role in the television drama series uGugu no Andile. In 2008 I got my first major role in an international Dutch film, White Light. This meant that I would have to leave school for private tutoring for a month.

Just a day after I returned, I wrote my June examinations. I got four As.

In September 2008 I had to leave school again to travel to Uganda for the post-production of the film White Light. I came back a day before the trial exams. I got four As for my trials too.

For my final exams I was hoping to get at least five distinctions but to my surprise I received a full house of seven distinctions.

Throughout my high school life I have been a part of my school's top achievers for all grades, became chairman of the debate and public speaking societies and occupied the RCL's additional member position in 2004, education portfolio officer in 2005, deputy presidency in 2006 and the presidency in 2007.

Most of the pupils at my school wanted to know how I kept a very active lifestyle and still prospered academically. The simple answer is, always prioritise your work, know what's important and what you can sideline!

A human being today is a brand, a business and like any entity it requires management. Organise yourself, keep a day planner and stick to the plans.

My biggest inspiration is my mom and I attribute my accomplishments to her.

This year I embark on a new journey, fulfilling a lifelong dream to become a chartered accountant. I am studying for a BCom at the University of Johannesburg. The only expectation I have is from myself and that is to be fully committed, and continue to succeed.

lThe author represented Gauteng in the 2007 Anglo American and Sowetan Young Communicators Awards. Supported by the Education Department, the awards help motivate young pupils for whom English is not a mother tongue to focus on education, while also inculcating a nation-building spirit among participants.