March 2023.

Seven years of hard work, resilience and dedication has paid off for Somerset East’s Shakeilah Williams, who is on track to complete her Degree in Medicine (MB, ChB) at Stellenbosch University this year. This Cookhouse Wind Farm’s bursary programme recipient, who comes from this historic small town in the Eastern Cape, plans to return home after she receives her medical degree to invest her skills and passion back into her community.

Shakeilah describes her academic journey, which took her far from home as a very “trying” time. “Trying to stay afloat, adjusting to life in a big city, dealing with mental health issues, showing up every day and giving my 100%, and deciding what type of doctor and woman I wanted to become,” she said.

Having left her hometown to pursue her life ambition to become a doctor, Shakeilah needed to adjust and become accustomed to life as a resident away from her family, at Stellenbosch University, which was a huge transition.

“My family is immensely proud of me. I will be the first medical doctor in my family, as well as the first coloured medical doctor from my town. The bursary made sure that neither I nor my family had to stress about anything. I don’t know of any other bursary that supports its students the way the Cookhouse Wind Farm bursary does.”

In addition to supporting her financially, the bursary programme has also helped her in terms of dealing with her personal life struggles, as well as her mental health. As a result of the bursary, Shakeilah was able to find a psychiatrist she can connect with and trust to help her function optimally.

Cookhouse Wind Farm’s Scholarship programme, which launched eight years ago, aims to provide tertiary education funding for youth living within a 50km radius of the Wind Farm. The focus is to contribute towards human resource development in fields considered critical for the South African economy.

The Scholarship Programme targets all high schools across the four beneficiary communities. “For many young people, receiving a tertiary bursary is the only opportunity they have to fulfil their dream of studying and expanding their horizons. The Cookhouse Wind Farm Scholarship programme specifically targets learners in these towns, so they don’t need to compete against learners in other provinces,” explained Lifa Baskiti, Community Liaison Officer for Cookhouse Wind Farm.

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