Thokozile Mcopele: TSiBA Graduate Awarded Mandela Rhodes Scholarship

The Man­dela Rhodes Schol­ar­ship is a pres­ti­gious award given to young Africans demon­strat­ing aca­d­e­mic excel­lence as well as lead­er­ship poten­tial. Earn­ing the Man­dela Rhodes Schol­ar­ship takes a dis­tinct type of per­son. The words to describe these schol­ars that come in mind usu­ally include intel­li­gent, hard­work­ing, and per­se­ver­ant. Thokozile Mcopele, a grad­u­ate of TSiBA, Ter­tiary School in Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion, is one of twenty eight 2013 Man­dela Rhodes Schol­ars and cer­tainly demon­strates all of these traits.

TSiBA, an inno­v­a­tive uni­ver­sity located in Cape Town, South Africa, fol­lows a “Pay It For­ward” model. Stu­dents who are awarded schol­ar­ships are not expected to mon­e­tar­ily pay for their edu­ca­tion; instead, they take the knowl­edge and skills they develop at TSiBA, and pay it for­ward into their com­mu­ni­ties. Thokozile immensely enjoyed the “Pay It For­ward” model, doing chal­leng­ing, and reward­ing com­mu­nity devel­op­ment work. She main­tains that her career aspi­ra­tions are based on the work she has done through “Pay It For­ward”. Her aspi­ra­tions are also influ­enced by the expe­ri­en­tial learn­ing she has par­tic­i­pated in, includ­ing internships.

Thokozile began at TSiBA in 2008, study­ing Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion and spe­cial­iz­ing in Entre­pre­neur­ship and Lead­er­ship. Some of her most mem­o­rable moments occurred dur­ing the Foun­da­tion Year in her stud­ies, before begin­ning her degree. The year allowed her to focus on self-awareness, a con­cept that she found incred­i­bly empow­er­ing.  Another note­wor­thy achieve­ment in her time at TSiBA was mak­ing money through ven­tures. It was a chal­leng­ing expe­ri­ence, apply­ing class­room con­cepts from Entre­pre­neur­ship and Inno­va­tion to real life. It involved work­ing as a team, and deal­ing with dynamic, chang­ing plans to pro­duce tan­gi­ble outcomes.

When Thokozile dis­cov­ered she was a 2013 Man­dela Rhodes Scholar, it took some time for the honor and pres­tige to sink in. Thokozile is the fifth TSiBA grad­u­ate in five years to receive the pres­ti­gious award. When she met the other schol­ars, she found that they all had sim­i­lar reac­tions: “In our dis­cus­sions, we dis­cov­ered that all of us aspired to be some­thing to some­one and make an impact in our com­mu­ni­ties. It then val­i­dated to me that my hopes and dreams mean some­thing to some­one; clearly they did to the Man­dela Rhodes Foun­da­tion and TSiBA”. The schol­ar­ship has given her new expe­ri­ences that she never thought she would have, or reach for. These include speak­ing at con­fer­ences and other big events and becom­ing self aware, and this is just the begin­ning of her scholarship.

The Man­dela Rhodes Schol­ar­ship will take Thokozile to the Uni­ver­sity of Johan­nes­burg, where she will pur­sue an Honor’s Degree in Strate­gic Man­age­ment. When asked to give advice to stu­dents inter­ested in sim­i­lar endeav­ors, her num­ber one sug­ges­tion was to work hard: “No one has con­trol over your deci­sion but your­self, so if some­thing does not con­tribute to you goal, cut it out”.