Who would have thought our top Matric achiever in Maths, AP Maths, Accounting and Physical Science would be quoting poetry as her inspiration? Or linking it to chess moves? But that is the wonder of our Ruth First girls, and the education which Jeppe Girls provides: that Tennyson’s Ulysses is top of mind when Mandisa Mpinga reflects on her five years at Jeppe, and the road ahead.
Mandisa is a pocket rocket! Standing just over 1,5 meters tall, she wears her black Full colours blazer with pride. It is testament to her academic success as well as her achievements in other areas of school life: chess captain and number 1 board player, vice house captain of Protea, school councillor, head of the computer centre and play producer.
Her impish sense of humour and readiness to have fun contrast with a strong work ethic, an ability to get things done and a determination to succeed. An ‘academic person’, she recalls floundering in Grade 8, until she came to realise the difference that making notes made. And she’s been doing so ever since – consistently wearing a “Top 10” badge since term 4 of Grade 9.
On being part of the Ruth First programme, Mandisa commented, “Family. It’s a lot like a family. It is a support system, whereby you feel there are people looking out for you. The mentorship programme equipped me with skills and provided opportunities to explore different parts of myself. A highlight was attending the Ruth First lecture at Wits and hearing Makhosi Khoza speak, the day of her resignation from the ANC in August 2017.”
Mandisa’s ambition is to study medicine with a view to becoming an orthopedic surgeon. At this stage, all her efforts are focused on getting into Wits Medical School in 2020, no easy feat. In addition to Tennyson, she draws inspiration from her chess teacher’s instruction: “All the moves you make must feed into one definite play or goal”. And the message from Louis Macneice’s Prayer before birth, which she describes as “a call to realise your own destiny, and not to be pressured to achieve success by others’ parameters.”