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14-year-old girl thrills South Africa by enrolling for Actuarial Science degree

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A 14-YEAR-OLD South African genius girl entered herself into the country’s history books after she successfully enrolled for an undergraduate degree in Actuarial Science at the University of Pretoria (UP).

Mongiwa Ntuli has begun her journey as an aspiring actuarial scientist with the financial support of the university after she passed Grade 12 with seven distinctions.

At first, Ntuli was frustrated that because of her age, she could not apply for a bursary as she is a minor and well below the cut-off age for normal bursary applications. However, the UP came to her rescue and made sure she enrols with the institution.

Ntuli told IOL media in Pretoria that she started school at an early age, having been enrolled for Grade 1 at the age of four.

“When I was in grade three, my teacher indicated that I would do better in grade five. After attending a few classes, he recommended that I skip grade six and go to grade seven, but my guardians were against me being promoted to upper grades.

“They decided that I should follow the sequence of grades,” she said.

After scoring top marks in grade 12, the Gauteng teen celebrated her exceptional results but the joy was cut short when she couldn’t successfully land a bursary.

Ntuli thought she had done her part by working hard and achieving good results, and a bursary award would be an icing to her budding career. Without bursary support, she was not going to fund her university studies.

“All I needed was financial assistance. I had a conversation with the Vice-Chancellor at UP, who ensured that I was granted funding. I will forever be grateful for that,” Ntuli said.

Like other young people, deciding a career path was a daunting task for the 14-year-old.

She stated that choosing to study at UP was an easy decision because she wanted to be associated with a prestigious university.

“At first, I wanted to study medicine, but everything changed when I read up about actuarial science and realised that this profession is about problem-solving, which defines me,” she explained.

“Actuarial science is about collecting complicated data and giving it out in its simplest forms. It is about maths, and I enjoy maths because it is precise and perfect.

“This course combines my love for maths, statistics and finance. If I can combine all of that and get one profession, why not actuarial science?”

Actuarial science employs statistical and mathematical analysis to assess and evaluate financial and insurance risk, and is a highly demanding college programme.

Ntuli hopes to obtain her qualification in record time and eventually study towards a PhD. Her ultimate goal is to be an employer and create jobs. But before that, she reckons she faces many sleepless nights ahead of her university life.

“This profession and course comes with a whole lot of responsibilities and sacrifices. One needs to be focused to be in this field, because there will be fails and sleepless nights,” she said.

UP will cover Ntuli’s tuition fees, study material and other expenses. Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe said one of the University’s strategic goals is access and success, especially for learners who have done well.

“Mongiwa fits everything that the University wants to promote. UP is a place of excellence and achievement: we aim to attract learners with distinctions from across the world,” Kupe said.

Ntuli’s uncle, Lifa Nkala, said they are grateful that she was able to get funding.

“These are tough times, but when someone opens their pockets this wide and is willing to assist a stranger, it means a lot to us. Thank you, Prof Kupe, for coming through for us.”


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