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The Durban University of Technology (DUT) recently awarded the 31st Sharon Wilson Award for the Top Annual English and Communication Student. This year, 2020, the award has been given to Video Technology student, Cikizwa Yolisa Gwambe.

After passing matric with excellent results, Gwambe never looked back and began studying for her Diploma in Video Technology at the Durban University of Technology (DUT).

“It was not easy getting where I am today, the winner of such a prestigious award. The story of how I ended up in a film course is not as cut and dried as one might think, this Diploma is a far cry from where I started,” she said.

Despite the opinions of her friends and family, the 26-year-old chose to follow her passion which is the Art and Design field.

The Sharon Wilson award was established 30 years ago for the top English and Communication student to honour Mr Clive Wilson’s late wife, Sharon, who used to work in the English and Communication department. Sharon passed away in 1988, Mr Wilson decided to invest an amount of R2000 in honour of his late wife (Sharon Wilson) because she loved teaching English and Communication.

This year’s price was R7 500. Gwambe says she felt really honoured for winning this award, although this was not her first win as she also received an award in the year 2019 for academic excellence.

“I plan to add the money to the savings I have been accumulating to buy video recording equipment. The film industry is very expensive to work in so every cent counts. The award is a welcome boost in terms of reaching my goal,” said Gwambe.

Her road to her academic studies was marred with challenges. Not qualifying to get NSFAS challenged her, forcing her to rely on bursaries for funding. She eventually got funding from bursaries, in November 2019, from an advertising agency at TBWA.SA. The agency paid for her outstanding fees and this year in March 2020, the KwaZulu-Natal Film and Commission granted her a bursary.

“The pandemic and lockdown forced me to take on responsibilities at home, I had to take care of my ill grandmother together with my mother who is not well too, that posed as a challenge on my academics especially because online learning became part of the new normal,” said Gwambe.

The award winning Gwambe emphasised on how much DUT and the Video Technology Department helped in terms of providing support in her academic studies. “My lectures were very instrumental in the process to help me find a way to settle my fees in 2019. I would like to give special thanks to Dr Cary Burnett for being at the forefront of my journey,” she said.

Going forward, Gwambe desires to get an internship at TBWA.SA and build her career from there. She is also working towards becoming an Arts Director or Production Designer. Her other is to open her own media company that will do creative digital visual art film projects in South Africa.

Lastly, Gwambe encourages young people to follow their dreams and passion.

“No matter how hard it is, fight to find your passion and fulfil your purpose. If you don’t see yourself happy doing what you are doing now, something is wrong- trust your gut! Work hard and pray hard,” said Gwambe.

Pictured: Cikizwa Gwambe

Nikiwe Sukazi

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