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HER mother died of Aids. She does not know her father. But this did not stop 19-old-old Mpumi Nobiva from working hard to secure a bright future for herself.

Now Nobiva is heading to the US where she will study fine arts.

She passed her matric with a university entrance last year at the upmarket Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Henley-on-Klip, south of Joburg.

After working hard during her matric, Nobiva obtained five distinctions and was accepted to study at Johnson C Smith University in North Carolina.

This dedicated young woman, who grew up in a backyard room in Rosettenville, said she could not wait to leave SA to study and explore other parts of the world and their cultures.

“This is a life-changing moment and I am ready to live it to the fullest and meet new people,” she said.

Nobiva said she had initially planned to only study for fine arts after completing matric, but being a student intern at an engineering company had exposed her to different career options such as marketing, engineering and administration.

“I realised that I can do a lot of things. I believe that interdisciplinary studies allows one to combine two degrees majoring in business and majoring in fine art.”

Nobiva’s mother Nonhlanhla Nobiva died of HIV/Aids when she was nine years old.

She said losing her mother at a very young age and not knowing who her father was had motivated her to work hard.

She is one of seven students who will be flying to the US on July 18 to study her chosen field.

Currently 65 students from Winfrey’s school are at SA universities, while 69 pupils are doing their Grade 12 at the school this year.

Nobiva, who was supported by her grandmother’s pension and the child grant that she received monthly before she turned 18, always told herself she would succeed in life.

Her grandmother, Vivian Nobiva, 70, who lives at an old-age home in Moffatview, Joburg, said it was not easy looking after Mpumi and her other grandchildren throughout their childhood.

“I am a domestic worker and do seasonal odd jobs. Looking after my family was not easy because I earned and still earn a little money.

“But through the grace of God we managed to survive.”

Nobiva said that having her grandmother to guide her had been a blessing.

“Being a young woman, you need guidance. It was not easy but I drew strength from my grandmother.”

Nobiva was accepted at Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in 2007 were she started doing Grade 8.

Nobiva said the process of acceptance took a long time and that she almost lost hope.

“I did endless interviews that took my strength and I even thought of giving up. I did substitute tests and I was finally accepted to be in the first group.

I got a distinction in business, fine art, life orientation and IsiZulu, but I was not expecting to get a distinction in English.”

She said when she finished her studies in the US she would return home to set up her own project to empower aspiring artists, and help her grandmother and other relatives.