798 17/06/2012 Journalist Nikiwe Bikitsha at her home in Sunninghill. Bikitsha has been awarded the Hubert Humphrey fellowship and will leave for the United States in August. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee

Botho Molosankwe

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ONE OF SA’s young media stars will bid the country goodbye for a year as she embarks on a career-enhancing journey in the US.

Nikiwe Bikitsha, 34, who cut her journalism teeth at Cape Talk 567 when it launched in 1997, has been awarded the prestigious Hubert Humphrey fellowship for 2012/13.

The fellowship is part of the Fulbright programme and awarded to mid-career professionals who have shown leadership qualities. It aims to develop their professional acumen during a 10-month stint at an American university, with the added perk of six weeks’ work experience at a major organisation in the US.

Bikitsha will be placed at Arizona State University and will be based at the university’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, with a specific focus on economic development.

An excited Bikitsha, who currently co-anchors News Night with Jeremy Maggs on e-News, believes she was chosen because of her determination, hard work and passion.

Bikitsha said she had applied for the fellowship, because she believed people should never be complacent and needed continually to upskill themselves.

And when she applied in August last year, she had no idea what to expect.

She was interviewed by “many people” from the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship, the Fulbright selection committee and the US State Department. The process, she said, had been rigorous and challenging.

“The interviews were also quite demanding and challenging,” she recalled.

She was shortlisted in November, but says waiting for the final word on whether she had been accepted was nerve-racking.

When Bikitsha heard she had made it, she was relieved, and a new world awaited her.

“I am looking forward to the adventure. It’s a bit scary, though, because I get to be someone else in another country. Five days a week I am on TV or at the forefront of covering a major event. But now I am looking (forward) to escaping to a fresh beginning.”