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Unlocking potential for greatness.

Wilson Mongwe

Wilson Mongwe

How SAADP Touched My Life

My journey with SAADP began with a phone call from Ms Nokwanda Mkhize, who invited me to an interview at Wits on January 7, 2009, which also happened to be my birthday. I took this call while sitting beneath my grandmother’s Mango tree, worried about how I would pay for my university education because my mum was a genitor. Little did I realize that that phone conversation would mark the start of a connection with an institution that would affect not only my academic career, but every aspect of my life.

Through the grace of God, SAADP granted me a scholarship to study actuarial science at UCT. At UCT, I met Billy Enderstein (the SAADP coordinator at the time), who was concerned not just with my academic future, but also with my overall well-being and ensuring that I was a well-rounded individual. I was able to develop my people skills and flourish academically with the comprehensive support of the SAADP program as well as the sense of community created within the program. By the time I graduated from UCT, I had been on the dean’s merit list every year until third year, won two class medals for 2nd and 3rd year statistics modules, graduated the BBusSci Actuarial Science degree with a distinction in statistics (and 8 actuarial exemptions), and received the SAADP chairman’s award.

Most of my success after graduating from UCT can be attributed to the groundwork set by SAADP on their comprehensive approach to assisting their students. Since graduating from UCT, I’ve earned a degree in Computer Science (cum laude), a Masters in Mathematics of Finance (with distinction), and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence (supported by Google Research). I am a Google PhD fellow and one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans for 2020, as well as one of the News24 30 Young Mandela’s for 2022. I am now employed at Absa Group Limited as the Head of Market Risk and Capital Analytics for Global Markets.  I am left with the modeling and fellowship exams to qualify as an actuary with ASSA. I am also a co-author (together with Professors Tshilidzi Marwala and Rendani Mbuvha) of a Bayesian Machine Learning book entitled “Hamiltonian Monte Carlo Methods In Machine Learning”.

My accomplishments and development as a responsible citizen would not have been possible without the comprehensive assistance I received from SAADP. You have inspired a Limpopo township youngster to dream big. Continue the fantastic work you’ve begun by altering the narrative for the many black young people like myself.

Dr Wilson Tsakane Mongwe

BSc (UNISA), BBusSci (UCT), MPhil (UCT), Ph.D.(UJ

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