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Can I share this with you?

I may have mentioned that eight years ago I met and befriended an Aids
orphan in one of our shanty towns. Mbali is very bright, and battled her way
through a very poor and dysfunctional school to qualify for university. She
wanted to do a BSc, but could not get in due to space constraints. She
therefore did a diploma course in biotechnology at the University of
Johannesburg last year - and did very well, getting three distinctions, one
in chemistry.

We applied to transfer her to BSc this year, and the admin botched things -
they told her she was accepted subject to space being available, then told
her she'd been rejected. I got into a rage and wrote an impassioned - but I
hope reasoned - email to the dean, pointing out that this way, South Africa
was likely to lose a scientist and gain a technician. She has proved that
she is dedicated and hardworking, and will not drop out mid-year, as so many
of our deeply unprepared first-years do. I said she should be accepted based
solely on her 2011 results, but added that I found it really sad that they
were turning down a girl who, on one occasion, turned to me with a glowing
face and said, "I really LOVE science!" Someone who has the potential to go
way beyond BSc, to really contribute to science nationally and globally.
(Plus, I reminded them, she has a sponsor who is paying her fees, and I am
sure I can fundraise a little to cover books - so many of our first-years
don't have enough for their fees, and can't qualify for a bank loan, the
Catch-22 being banks won't loan to first-years who they well know could drop
out.)

And guess what? I got a phone call from the faculty. They have decided to
accept Mbali. She's on her way! A kid born in a corrugated iron shack will
become a scientist, will, I am sure, one day be Dr Nkabinde. Tears,
laughter, and a desire to rush out and polka down the street.. OMG, I am so
glad!

Mandi