Our Stories

Every Imagine Scholar leader is unique. No one set of numbers defines the entire group – they are characterized by their own accomplishments, their own paths, and their own futures. We unlock their potential and allow the individual to grow. Supporting an Imagine Scholar means we work one-on-one with them to identify their personal passions and effect positive community change in their own way. Here are a few of their stories:


Rodger, Class of 2017

Don’t be fooled by Rodger’s easygoing attitude. He is one of the most talented, driven students in the program. He is also Imagine Scholar’s resident handyman. He can fix anything – including Imagine Scholar’s cars! His dream is to become an engineer in the alternative energy sector. His numbers:

  • 1 – first student from the region to be accepted to United World College – Dilijan in Armenia
  • 4 – led the 4-person team that won First Place in the regional electric vehicle competition
  • 40,000 – cost of his solar panel project to provide sustainable electricity to Imagine Scholar

“’If you believe in peace, act peacefully; if you believe in love, acting lovingly; if you believe every which way, then act every which way, that’s perfectly valid – but don’t go out trying to sell your beliefs to the system. You end up contradicting what you profess to believe in, and you set a bum example. If you want to change the world, change yourself.’ This quote inspires me to be myself and always try not force my beliefs on other people since everyone has their own reality. Imagine Scholar helped me a lot in finding who I am and what I sincerely believe in. It also encourages me that I can change the world since I am able to change myself.”

Mandisa, Class of 2015

Mandisa is a quiet, dedicated leader. Her intelligence, and sincere desire to assist others, has made her one of the most successful students in the region. Her goal is to become a doctor and improve access to healthcare in the community. Her numbers:

  • 1 – first female from Mpumalanga province to be accepted to the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg
  • 150,000 – prize amount for her nationally recognized entrepreneurial agricultural project
  • 5 – was one of five founders of the student-run “Imagine Scholar Times” newspaper

“One my favorites quotes is by Barack Obama, ‘If you run, you stand a chance of losing, but if you do not run, you have already lost.’ It taught me that I am stronger than fear and I can do anything I want as long as I set my mind into it. It also taught me that it’s okay to fail, the fact that I tried and failed is an accomplishment because I had believed in myself that I had the potential.”

Victoria, Class of 2014

Victoria’s bold personality is her defining characteristic. Her willingness to tackle new challenges and jump into new projects head-on has been the source of inspiration for many younger Imagine Scholar students. Her most ambitious endeavor? Studying to become a doctor in Spanish – in Havana, Cuba. Her numbers:

  • 5 – years it will take her to become a licensed doctor in Havana, Cuba
  • 116 – books she read at Imagine Scholar
  • 11 – age she knew she wanted to become a doctor

“When you grow up in Nkomazi, you do not think you will end up in Cuba studying medicine! But that’s the amazing thing. When we have support, we can achieve more than we expect. I am now filled with courage to dream.”

Allan, Class of 2018

Allan’s polite demeanor hides his fierce grit and tenacity. His love of exploring new topics, especially reading, chess and science, has pushed him to become one of Imagine Scholar most well rounded leaders. He is the first to participate in discussion and approaches problems with unique insightfulness and understanding. His numbers:

  • 3 – was one of three Imagine Scholars selected for the Yale Young Global Scholars conference in Singapore, the first students from Mpumalanga province
  • 45 – students who participate in his afterschool chess program
  • 1 – performs in the top one percent of students at his school

“I know I can achieve anything in life if I remain strong and positive. Imagine Scholar has given me the confidence to do this and be successful. I hope to be the first in my family to be a doctor.”

Zodwa, Class of 2013

As a member of the pilot program, Zodwa was instrumental in shaping what Imagine Scholar has become. Her gift with spoken and written language has inspired every class of students to more deeply explore themselves and the struggles that face our community. She remains one of Imagine Scholar’s most active advocates and mentors younger students. Her numbers:

  • 2 – poems she had printed in international publications
  • 5 – one of the five students who co-founded Imagine Scholar
  • 13 – distinctions at university

“I’m a successful university student not only because I have been equipped with the necessary skills but also because I have inherited a family that provides a lifelong support system. What makes me proud is the amount of respect I inspire from people who don’t even know me by just practicing academic integrity and showing good social values of which I learned through Imagine Scholar.”

These are just a few of our amazing young leaders. Stay up to date with all of the Imagine Scholar youth by following social media and checking back here for updated bios!

Unlock potential, empower a leader