South African scholar studies abroad with a goal to eradicate climate change – By Mzwandile Prince Mamaila

By Mzwandile Prince Mamaila

Recipient of the Chevening Scholarship, Senamile Sishi: Source: Senamile Sishi’s Instagram account.

Climate change is a global threat to nature and our state of living. Communities have been destroyed, people have died, climate change and natural disasters the cause. Recently, the South African province of Kwa Zulu Natal has witnessed several floods, climate change the alleged cause. Fortunately, Senamile Sishi, a South African citizen born in Kwa Zulu Natal, has been awarded a scholarship to study in the UK. She is pursuing a MSc in Energy and Climate Policy, enabling her to develop policies that decrease the threat of climate change.

To secure a stable future for herself, Sishi wanted a career that would guarantee her employment. She was encouraged to choose Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in school. When the time to further her studies at a higher educational institution came, Sishi’s mom, who was a quantity surveyor at an engineering firm, notified her that there was a demand for environmental scientists, and that is what led her to the decision of studying Environmental Science at the University of Johannesburg. She decided to further her studies with honours in Energy Studies and secured a job as an Energy Advisor at Sustainable Energy Africa. She worked with local governments and policymakers, influencing, and advising them to implement rightful policies for renewable energy.

Sishi was not fully aware of what Environmental Sciences entails when she began her tertiary education. “So, I thought, because I’m looking for stability, that’s probably where I need to focus my effort,” she further alluded as she wanted to contribute towards resolving this issue as she has realized that there are many people who do not understand or believe in climate change.

Sishi had enrolled in a part-time Master’s degree at the University of Johannesburg and that is how she got introduced to the Chevening Scholarship. This scholarship permits you to study in the United Kingdom with all expenses paid. An online presentation was made at the University of Johannesburg to encourage students to apply for this scholarship. The scholarship application was open to every student in the world, and only a certain amount was awarded the scholarship in each country. In South Africa, there were more than 40 scholars awarded the scholarship,” Sishi stated as she was grateful for being part of the group that received the scholarship this year. “The aim was to apply and understand how the system works so that the plan was to apply properly next year,” she further alluded, as she did not believe she would receive the scholarship this year.

Sishi explained the process of applying for the Chevening scholarship. By September 2023, Sishi was ready to begin her new life in the UK as a Master’s scholar at the University of Sussex in Brighton. Her academic year has already commenced, and she plans to complete this qualification by September 2024.

Moving forward, Sishi will have to return to South Africa once she has completed her Master’s in the UK. It is one of the requirements for her scholarship to spend a minimum of two years in her home country, using the skills she has learned to develop South Africa. She would like to continue working with local governments and then gradually move to work with national governments or organisations that wish to decrease the emissions in South Africa and hinder further damage caused by climate change.