Gansbaai – University of the Free State vice chancellor Jonathan Jansen is beaming with pride about an investment he made in human capital. A poverty-stricken top 2013 matric Gansbaai student, whom he lured to Bloemfontein with an all expenses bursary, has excelled in her first year by attaining seven distinctions.
Jansen made headlines in January last year when he grabbed the Gansbaai Academia head girl ahead of Western Cape universities, after reading about her plight of not being able to find a bursary to study despite her five As in the 2013 matric results.
Die Burger reported about De Koning’s sad circumstances. She, her mother, sister and stepfather – who has been diagnosed with cancer – live in a one-room dwelling at the back of someone’s house. De Koning’s father died when she was very young.
After hearing about her circumstances the Kovsie vice chancellor personally called the young girl and offered her an all expenses bursary to study in Bloemfontein.
Reasons to smile
Jansen has a lot of reasons to smile about his investment. De Koning has passed her first year BSc Behavioural genetics with flying colours, getting seven distinctions out of the twelve modules of the course.
He could not stop talking about his protégé this week. “She is a darling, [and] a wonderful asset for Kovsies. I love her as much as my own daughter.
De Koning says she would not exchange her first year at Kovsies for anything in the world. “It helped me to move out of my comfort zone,” she said.
She has tremendous respect for Jansen. “There are days when Prof Jansen would come out of his office and conduct info sessions on the lawn in front of the old head building. Then anyone could ask him anything. He does not sit on a golden throne.”
She says she often goes into the office of Jansen’s secretary, Rhoda Grobler who has become a mother to her. The Grobler family has almost adopted this girl who had been very worried about making the move to Bloemfontein.
“I also look into Prof Jansen’s office when he’s not too busy. The last time we had lunch and discussed various things about campus.”
Jansen’s call changed her life completely.
“Initially I did not believe it was him. I was also not sure whether I should move so far from home but Ganbsbaai Academia principal Tommy Wilson insisted that I accept the offer.
She has not disappointed Jansen.
“Bianca has two special qualities that fit perfectly with the mission of Kovsies,” says Jansen. “She is a top academic student and she is truly inclusive in her approach to other students. She has consistently scored distinctions in her university subjects, impressing her professors. She has made close friends from across the university community with so much ease.
“Her parents and her school did a great job of preparing her for living and learning in the real world outside of the comfort zones in which so many remain stuck.
“I have no doubt that Bianca, with these qualities, will rise to become a great leader in South Africa and the world.”
Jansen told News24 that the university has bursaries available for “top students in financial need”.
And now that the 2014 matric results have been released, Jansen says they’re “already on the lookout for other Biancas in all nine provinces.”