As the first person in his family to go to university, Anathi Qosho is aware of the responsibility he holds. He aims to empower not just his family, but also the youngsters in his community, to make the most of their education.
“This degree will be the key that opens doors for my family and myself,” says Anathi. Currently in his first year of civil engineering at Stellenbosch University, Anathi hails from the township of Motherwell in Port Elizabeth. “I grew up with my mother, father and siblings with my father being the provider of home,” he says. “I’m the first one in the family to go to university and they’re all very proud of me. My younger brother and sister’s futures depend on me, I’ll be providing for them.”
Anathi knows the importance of making the most of whatever you’re given. “I worked very hard at school,” he says. “I went to a government school that had very little, but I made use of the few resources we had – that’s why I’m here at Stellenbosch University.”
The road to engineering
While in high school, Anathi was exposed to a programme called Prac which taught learners about engineering. “They inspired me and showed me what engineers do, specifically civil engineers and that interested me a lot,” he said. “I decided that I wanted to try and study civil engineering, so the programme had a big impact on what I chose to study.
For Anathi, who at school had a love for physical and life sciences, civil engineering was a natural choice. A planner at heart, he’s clear about where he’s heading over the next few years. “There are different branches of civil engineering and I’d like to go into the transport side,” he says. “I’d like to first get my degree here in Stellenbosch and then do my honours at UCT if I can. After that I’ll come back and build experience.”
Applying for the Moshal scholarship through two learning programmes he was a part of, Anathi was destined to become part of the Moshal family. “I actually applied twice, through each programme,” he says. “There were also older kids who’d been at my high school and were in university through the scholarship, so they were encouraging us to apply as well.”
For Anathi, one of the most challenging aspects of going to Stellenbosch University was being so far away from home. Yet the support Moshal provides has effectively helped him handle the difficulties this sometimes brings. “The scholarship has changed my life very dramatically,” he says. “Our Moshal coordinator here in the Western Cape, Dale Choudree is like a parent to me. It’s the first time I’ve lived away from home so his support has been a light – I can’t put it into words. Here at Stellenbosch University the Moshal scholars have also formed bonds with one another and with the UCT Moshal scholars. We always help one another by, for example, sharing study resources like past papers.”
Passing the torch
Embodying the Moshal value of paying it forward, Anathi plans to start two youth upliftment programmes after he graduates. “Firstly, I want to start up a programme that helps high school children with maths and science,” he says. “If possible, I’d also like to develop a programme that teaches youth about the importance of education, specifically when it comes to following a career in engineering.”
Considering what lessons, he’d like to impart to learners based on his own experiences, Anathi says: “Trust your own independence. Learn to depend on yourself, not to rely on other people so much that you can’t work without them supporting you. That happens often in high school. So, I’d encourage high school learners to not be totally dependent on teachers to learn what they need to know – do it for yourself.”
Keep on pushing
Asked what keeps him motivated, especially through tough times, Anathi says it’s about attitude, determination and taking chances. “When you fail or the circumstances around you aren’t favourable, that doesn’t define your future,” he says.
“There are two quotes that motivate me every day,” he continues. “The first one is: “It’s not your aptitude, but your attitude, that determines your altitude.” The other one is from Paulo Coelho who in The Zahir writes: “Going after a dream has a price. It may mean abandoning our habits, it may make us go through hardships, or it may lead us to disappointment. But however costly, it is never as high as the price paid by people who live in his/her comfort zone.””
“So, taking these two quotes into my life, I grew up in a very disadvantaged background, but I didn’t let that bring me down. I always kept on pushing and pushing and luckily God answered my prayers and I’m under the Moshal Scholarship now.”