Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls Celebrates Matric Results in Tenth Year
Tuesday, 9 January 2018 - The seventh graduating class of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls (OWLAG), affectionately referred to as the O-Mavericks, again achieved a 100% pass rate - completing the National Senior Certificate under the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) and maintaining a 100% Bachelor’s Degree pass rate which allows every girl entry to Degree studies at a university. The Class of 2017, comprised of 57 girls, graduated with a combined total of 134 distinctions.
Born from a pledge by Ms. Oprah Winfrey to former president Nelson Mandela to provide a world-class educational platform for marginalized girls and nurture a new generation of dynamic leaders, OWLAG aims to cultivate a generation of strong, successful women who will be an inspiration and asset to their families and country. 2017 marked the 10th anniversary of OWLAG.
“Each year, our graduates continue to be an inspiration to their juniors and the staff at OWLAG. Their hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence, both academically and socially, has shown that they have the ability to excel, and to move beyond their challenging circumstances,” says Rebecca Sykes, President of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation.
While each OWLAG matric student achieved outstanding results, the Academy’s top five academic achievers passed with a combined 22 distinctions.
Based on IEB matric results, Arabela Chilwane is the 2017 top student, attaining distinctions for Accounting (86%); Mathematics (82%); Physical Sciences (85%); English Home Language (86%); Sesotho First Additional Language (87%); Economics (93%) and Life Orientation (91%).
Chilwane is planning on pursuing a degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) in 2018 and advises younger students not to refuse an opportunity if they get a glimpse of one - even if it does not look like their purpose or their passion. She says she has learnt the most from showing up at what looked like the ‘wrong door’.
The other top four students, Thembisile Malinga, Sandisile Mkhonza, Kaylene Reddy and Ayanda Sibanda, all acquired five distinctions each.
Thembisile Malinga says, “I will use the gift of education that was given to me by the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy to uplift and empower young girls and boys in my community and help them see and dream beyond their circumstances”. She plans to study a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting (BCom Accounting) and will work towards becoming a Chartered Accountant.
Ayanda Sibanda, who is interested is studying Philosophy and Economics, is passionate about economic equality. She would like to see herself as a driving force in carrying out equality. Her vision for South Africa is of an economically inclusive society with many opportunities, as well as strategies implemented by the government, to spark growth and innovation.
Kaylene Reddy, who will be studying BIS Multimedia at the University of Pretoria, is passionate about education and using it to help break the cycle of poverty that exists in her community. She says, “Mom Oprah’s humility and generosity inspires me and I hope to one day afford other girls similar opportunities to what OWLAG has afforded me”.
Sandisile Mkhonza is passionate about environmental conservation and youth empowerment through education and has created a Non-Profit Organisation called Dream. Believe. Achieve that aims to empower the youth of her community in Tjakastad. Mkhonza was awarded Best Delegate at the SAIIA Wildlife Youth Forum in December 2017.
“We are delighted with the excellent results across the class of 2017. Their achievements are testament that given the right support and environment - anyone despite their background - can be successful. We will continue to nurture this generation of transformative South African women leaders,” concluded Sykes.