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Susan Dell talks with Dell Young Leaders

Dell Young Leaders: They’re just getting started

Guest Author: Aya Solombela

“You’ve already achieved so much, but you’re just getting started.” Susan Dell shared this sentiment with a group of Dell Young Leaders in South Africa earlier this year. And from what we’ve seen from each and every one of our Dell Young Leaders over the first 10 years, she’s absolutely right.

It’s no secret that getting through university and on to meaningful employment is a challenge in South Africa today, where only two in five low-income students will complete their degrees. Our work with the Dell Young Leaders programme aims to give university students a chance to not only complete their degrees, but to also be an example for their peers and communities as they take the next step to a meaningful career.

And as we welcomed our 10th class of Dell Young Leaders into the programme earlier this month, we were met with a group of 120+ new students who are eager, driven, and ready to realize their potential. While their stories are all unique, the one thing they share is their commitment to working hard to shape their next chapter.

Students like Vinolia, whose grandfather emphasized the importance of her education, leading her to pursue a degree in social work. And Ellen, who is setting an example for her hometown by not only attending but succeeding at university. Kamvelihle, who as a first-generation law graduate is seizing the opportunity to inspire others. And Sitha, who reminds us that no matter where you come from, your dreams are still valid.

And, to think, they’re just getting started.

Watch this video to hear more from Dell Young Leaders Vinolia, Ellen, Kamvelihle, and Sitha.


Susan Dell: First of all, congratulations for being in the program. What was it that made you decide that going to university was really important for you? 

Vinolia: I applied to university because I wanted to empower myself. I wanted to improve the lifestyle at home. I grew up with my grandfather who was a single parent raising a whole lot of grandchildren, and he would ensure that we get to school and we learn. 

Ellen: The community I come from, they don’t know that outside there’s a different world. There’s education, there’s opportunities, so for me it was a matter of breaking away, setting an example. 

Susan Dell: Can you think of a time that the Dell Young Leaders Program really made a difference for you? 

Sitha: In my case, I changed my curriculum and that change came with its implications and its financial concerns. And they basically said to me, “Don’t you worry about a single thing.” To me that was invaluable. 

Kamvelihle: They invested from day one, be it financially, academically. Do you need tutoring? Do you need transports to a job interview? 

Ellen: I have somebody to call when I’m in trouble. It’s like when you have that Superman, when you go into something and then you know exactly who to call. So for me, it’s security. 

Vinolia: They’re always there for you, and you can never feel alone. 

Sitha: I think part of the disbelief and [inaudible 00:01:21] like me, was because it’s holistic. It’s not just emotional, it’s academic. It’s your career and developing the skills that to me, I was just in awe, like wow. 

Ellen: I saw how much inspiration I am to the little ones, like if you give them just one way that you can make it outside of this town, they’d run with it. 

Kamvelihle: I’m also about to be a first-generation graduate, and I can be an inspiration for other people as well. 

Sitha: Regardless of where you come from or whatever your background is, your dreams are still valid and you’ve just got to work hard I guess. 

Susan Dell: That’s right. I’m in awe of all of you. You’ve already achieved so much, but you’re just getting started.