Girls CAN do science: Nkomboni

Simoesenkosi Nkomboni, 20, from Plumtree in Matabeleland South, lost her mother when she was doing Form 4. This was a major blow to her academic life as she was about to write her O levels exams.

Simoesenkosi Nkomboni : off to study in the US for four years.
Simoesenkosi Nkomboni : off to study in the US for four years.

She recalls her mother’s words of wisdom regarding her academic performance: “Ever since I started exhibiting my passion for mathematics when I was in Form 2, my mother would tell me that science was for boys,” she said.

“I questioned why society had the perspective that girls could not excel in sciences but I failed to come up with a good answer. It motivated me even more to work hard in sciences and prove that girls can do it too.”

Inspired by her uncle, Boniface Nkomboni, who had a Masters in business administration at that time, Nkomboni said she chose to do mathematics, biology and chemistry at A level.

“Learning at a girls only school was an added advantage for me because it encouraged me to work even harder. There was no room for failure because we were provided with the same learning material, time and lived under the same conditions at Empandeni Girls High school in Plumtree,” she said.

Nkomboni’s hard work paid off. She attained 13 points at A level , but because of her disadvantaged background she could not further her studies.

“I was given an internship under the United States Achievers Programme. I applied for a scholarship and was accepted at Mount Holyoke College. I am thrilled to be part of this team,” she said.

Nkomboni is one of the 21 students who benefitted from scholarships worth over $5,6 million from American colleges and universities and will pursue her studies for the next four years in the USA.

Established in 1999, the USAP is a year-long platform for economically disadvantaged but academically gifted upper sixth students in Zimbabwe who exhibit leadership potential and the zeal to develop their communities.

Through seminars and workshops, USAP empowers the students with the knowledge on how to negotiate the application processes and gain scholarship funding to American universities and colleges.

The USAP finances application costs, including registration fees for required standardised examinations, visa fees and air tickets and provides free membership to the Education USA Advising Centre.

Nkomboni believes the opportunity to study abroad is the beginning of her journey towards ensuring that she contributes to the development of her community in Plumtree.

“It is during our darkest moments that we must stay focused and see the light. I have learnt that my circumstances should not thwart my potential,” said Nkomboni.

The former Empandeni High School student said her wish was to help others realise their dreams.

“I am going to study biology or mathematics because these are my best subjects. I want to improve the lives of others who are failing to make it because of financial constraints,” she said.

She urged other students in difficult circumstances to persevere because working hard and believing in oneself is the greatest asset towards fulfilling one’s dreams. “Determination pays,” said the second born in a family of six.

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