Unlocking potential for greatness.

Balethi Msipa

BSc. Degree, Actuarial Science (year 2), University of the Witwatersrand

My name is Balethi Msipa, and I am studying Actuarial Science at the University of the Witwatersrand. I began my journey into Actuarial Science in 2021. I remember leaving my township (Empangeni) and making my way to the city of gold. A young black Zulu boy heading to Johannesburg to study what is considered one of the hardest degrees! Yes, I was scared and so many ‘what if’ questions. What if I fail? What if I am not cut out for this? How is uMama (mother) going to afford my tuition?

1. Gratitude for my family’s support

I come from a small family of seven. I am the third child amongst my three siblings. I was raised by a single mother who taught me to never let external voices be an obstacle. She always encouraged me to follow my heart and choose a career I want to study not the one I think I want. With my grandparents and my siblings by my side I achieved excellent matric results. I came out 5th in my school out of 173 students achieving the second highest mathematics mark. This made me became a beacon of hope in my community. Most importantly, it made me a role model for my younger brother who also intends to study Actuarial Science in the near future.

2. My accolades

They say a businessman is born before he is realized. When I was awarded the opportunity to join the Gordon Institute of Business Science during my high school days, I was exposed to the idea of being a businessman. I knew that I wanted to be one from that moment. I achieved various accolades in high school such as the Top Academic Achiever, Chess Club Captain, and a member of the Representative Council of Learners (RCL).

3. How I developed passion for Mathematics

My passion for mathematics developed when I was reading a book titled The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown.

I realized that life is mathematics and mathematics is life. So, my curiosity was evoked by the strong relationship between the field of mathematics and life around us.

4. Discovering Actuarial Science

I heard about Actuarial Science from my mathematics teacher. He came to me after the matric results were released and told me about the career in Actuarial Science. I was immediately drawn in and did my own research on the career. The reason I chose Actuarial Science over other careers (besides the idea that it’s challenging), was because:

  • I found working with numbers way more fun than reading.
  • I wanted to bring my natural aptitude for mathematics to reality.
  • I wanted to solve business problems, create business products, and change the lives of many South Africans.
  • I wanted a degree that can put me in the front line of change.

5. My future ambitions

My ambitions into the field of Actuarial Science is to start my own actual practice that’s on the frontline of data and artificial intelligence. The journey so far has come with ups and downs to be fair. What I learned during the past few years was that tough times create tough people. During tough days I gathered strength and continued the walk, I am in it for the long run. I have mentally, emotionally, and personally grown.

6. Accessing SAADP support

My entry into varsity was plagued with fear. My biggest fear was funding. I was constantly asking myself how my mom is going to pay my fees. I would look at the fee statement and would be defeated by the cost of higher education, although my mom told me not to worry, I could not help It but worry considering I come from a struggling background. Denied by all bursaries I felt lost and weak.

My hope was revived when I came across SAADP. To this day I am forever grateful that they exist and are helping young black children like me achieve what seems unreachable by many. My journey with SAADP has been the best experience in my varsity life. They have filled the gap of family, friends, and support. Honestly, without SAADP I would be completely lost. I am truly grateful for the extra mile that the SAADP bursary takes to ensure my academic success. SAADP is my golden star. If a student needs funding opportunities, I would unequivocally and without fear suggests the South African Development Programme.

7. Conclusion

Studying Actuarial science can be incredibly rewarding and a fulfilling path. The field has untapped chambers and is very diversified, not only do actuaries enjoy job security, but the field also offers numerous opportunities for personal and professional growth and the chance to make a positive impact in society.

My name is Balethi and this is my journey into Acturial Science.

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