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From the Cape Flats to Harvard University: CT mum accepted into prestigious programme

Published Apr 23, 2022

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Soraya Mohideen is set to jet off to the John F. Kennedy School of Government at the prestigious Harvard University. The mum of two girls, who completed her schooling on the Cape Flats over two decades ago, was accepted into the Mid-Career Master’s in Public Administration (MC/MPA) programme at Harvard.

"Is is an immense achievement. I have chosen to attend the full-time, 11 month programme to better fulfill my responsibilities to the City of Cape Town and South African society," she said.

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"I must admit when I got the news of the fellowship I was a lot more surprised. The fellowship came first after I submitted an application for the programme and I know there were over 100 very qualified candidates and I was the sole recipient for the scholarship. It blew my mind," Mohideen said.

She added that when she got the news that she was accepted to Harvard, she was surprised but also confident based on the perspective and work she brings.

Mohideen said her unique perspective as a seasoned development professional, who is a mother and Muslim woman of colour, adds richness to the discourse on economic development, human capital, technology, and poverty alleviation.

"My 21-year career and lived experienced has instilled in me a purpose to serve the common good and a determination to shift people out of an inequality and poverty trap to better opportunity," she said.

Mohideen said she knows all about the inequality trap.

"The day I finished my final high school exam, I took the bus to a warehouse and collected a black duffle bag filled with rainbow-colored plastic toys to sell door-to-door. Three years later, a call centre job propelled me into the digital workplace at a time when the screech of dial-up modems were heard only in wealthy suburbs. I experienced firsthand the monumental personal and socio-economic growth aided by technology and the internet.

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My journey from low wage work to being a leader at a tech skills accelerator and now a specialist in local government inspires me to tackle youth unemployment through opportunities enabled by an increasingly digitised society. My career goal is to be an expert in workforce development for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) to improve lives and drive inclusive growth in Africa," she said.

After graduation, Mohideen wants to return to Cape Town's Enterprise and Investment unit to build policy experience while stimulating innovation, entrepreneurship, and job creation in catalytic sectors which builds the regional economy.

"Adding the degree to my life history and professional experience in youth employment acceleration, both as a practitioner and as a civil servant, makes me the best person to take on this challenge. A public service career serves my purpose to help young people who remind me of me," Mohideen said.

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She hopes to travel to the States with her family because she believes it is important for her young girls, aged 6 and 3, to see their mother achieving her goals on a global stage.

Mohideen hopes to raise funds that will pay for her funding abroad.

"The funds will go towards housing, health insurance, books, supplies, pre-school tuition and dependent costs for the year.

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"If I am able to successfully get 2000 people to sponsor $35 each (roughly R500), I will be able to cover my financial shortfall. However, any contribution you are able to make within your means is highly appreciated," Mohideen said.

To assist, you can reach Mohideen via: https://www.gofundme.com/f/from-cape-flats-to-harvard-support-soraya / @soraya_mohideen

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