Foundation Umaa Kundiona, a Zimbabwean Monash South Africa graduate, is a leading example of the important role a strong foundation plays and how it can assist school leavers achieve their academic aspirations irrespective of their circumstances. Having completed the Monash South Africa Higher Certificate in Higher Education Studies, which in essence is a pathway, preparing candidates for the demanding requirements of a degree; Kundiona has since achieved his undergraduate degree, with a double major in Marketing and Management, and is currently pursuing his Honours in Marketing at Monash South Africa within the School of Business and Economics.

Kundiona hopes to one day link his entrepreneurial ambitions with his passion for learning and he says, “Education inspires me, mainly due to my father who is my mentor and my inspiration. He has a Doctorate in education and he encourages and pushes me to achieve and be the best that I can be. From an academic perspective, my motivation to realise my goals is also drawn from my Monash academic supervisor who is really supportive and constantly encourages me to keep striving to reach my full potential.”

Working as a Resident Advisor in Student Services while on campus has meant that Kundiona is already putting his educational aims and objectives into practice. He has also acted as a dedicated member of the Monash Residence philanthropist group focussing on social responsibility specifically. Furthermore, Kundiona is basing his Honours thesis on entrepreneurship and education; a topic he hopes to expand upon when he pursues his Masters and Doctorate degrees.

Kundiona’s academic journey at Monash South Africa has also seen him travel to Malaysia as part the campus student exchange programme. “A true highlight of my time at Monash South Africa has been the opportunity to experience the Malaysian culture first hand. I had the privilege of meeting an inspirational lecturer at the Malaysian campus, who is passionate about demonstrating the practical aspects of her lectures to her students, and created fascinating excursions and activities for us to experience academic principles in practice. My journey made it clear to me that we have much to learn from other cultures, and many of the challenges we face in our communities are often experienced in other parts of the world too.”

If education has the power to uplift communities, then the role of a strong foundation such as the one that Kundiona experienced, in ensuring more scholars are fully equipped to enter university cannot be underestimated. The Monash South Africa Higher Certificate in Higher Education Studies, by way of example, is one NQF level above matric and aims to ensure that individuals like Kundiona, who are filled with passion and potential, can achieve their academic aspirations.