My name is Jesse Prinsloo. I grew up in a household supported by my mother, who raised my brother and me single-handedly. Throughout my life, she emphasised our education and urged us to be academically excellent.
I did not have the privilege of an education from a private school in Cape Town. I attended a public school in my community and could only look on from a distance at the wonderful facilities and opportunities that most privileged individuals at UCT experienced while growing up. Despite my differences at the time, I never felt that I had less potential compared to them. My mother made sure that I knew that.
I worked extremely hard for a place at UCT. I sacrificed many things from an early age. When I received my acceptance letter for Law, I felt satisfied that my hard work would lead to my desired reward.
The only thing stopping me was the lack of financial assistance that I needed to complete my LLB degree. But I knew that if I worked hard, and achieved good results, the opportunity would present itself. In my first year at UCT, I achieved a place on the Dean's Merit List. I was then offered a scholarship which would pay 70% of my fees each year. That financial security freed me to focus on my studies without the fear that, despite my hard work, I would not be able to complete my degree because I would not be able to afford the fees.
The scholarship was awarded each year on condition that I passed all my subjects. This rule provided me with a manageable standard, and throughout my degree I worked hard to keep that standard of excellence. It kept me focused on the task at hand. In the end, that standard contributed to me receiving my LLB degree in the required four years.
If I had not received that scholarship, I imagine my life at UCT would have been quite different. The financial burden of tertiary education can be debilitating, and ambition and focus can be diminished when one is encumbered by thoughts of whether it will be possible to enrol again the following year. Luckily, I did not have this problem. However, many of my classmates did, and I saw how this negatively affected their drive to succeed. If I had not received the scholarship, I would have experienced the same thing.
I am now working at Webber Wentzel, one of the top law firms in South Africa, where I am learning from the best legal minds in the world. I plan to complete my master's degree abroad in the near future. We are living in a wonderful time, where people of colour can dream of a bright and excellent future, and can now strive to be the best they can be. To ensure that this continues to grow, we need further funding.
As a proud UCT Law alumnus, I urge you to "pay it forward" by making a regular gift to the Law Faculty's Endowment Fund. With your contributions, we can remove the financial barriers that are placed in the paths to academic and professional success of many promising students.