The death of her mother shortly before her exams in 2019, had the potential to derail Vuyisile Nkala from matriculating - but the 18-year-old persevered against all odds.
Nkala's mother passed away a week before she started writing her final National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations. She has one brother and now stays with a legal guardian.
While going through an emotionally difficult time after the loss of her mother, Nkala was determined not to lose hope and continued pushing against the odds.
"I received support from Mr Ramohlokoane (a teacher from the KST) who helped me with extra classes and attended my mom's funeral and always took time to encourage me," said Nkala.
Despite the emotional trauma, the 18-year-old from HTS Sasolburg High School, which falls within the Fezile Dabi Education District, managed to matriculate.
This, she managed with the help of the Kagiso Shanduka Trust (KST) in partnership with the Free State Department of Education.
Nkala benefitted from this partnership through the additional support KST provided to all Grade 12 learners through extended extra Maths classes.
KST is a collaboration between Kagiso Trust and the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation previously known as Shanduka Foundation.
KST in partnership with the Free State Department of Education have been implementing District Whole School Development programme for the past seven years.
The Fezile Dabi district obtained 90.3% in the 2019 NSC examinations and still remained the leading district in the Free State Province and the fourth leading district nationally.
Nkala is happy about her results in Maths, Physical Science, Civil Technology, Engineering, Graphics and Design, Business Studies, English home language, Afrikaans first additional language and Life Orientation.
Nkala has applied to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme for funding to study Bcom Accounting at either Wits University, University of Pretoria or North West University.
"A message for the Class of 2020 is to keep focused and plan your goals and targets early in the year. It will be difficult, but you have to focus and work hard towards your goals," said an elated Nkala.