Grasping opportunities as they come

Laila Bera

Am I wrong for thinking that I could be something for real? This thought plagued my mind as I searched for a cure to rid myself of this infectious disease of doubt. My name is Laila Bera and this is a reflection of my journey down the rabbit hole on a quest of self-discovery.

‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ A question every child is asked time and time again. My 6 year old self wanted to be an archaeologist and uncover the ancient mysteries. My 16 year old self wanted to be a geneticist and create superheroes. My current plan is simple: conquer the world!

A year ago, I set my co-ordinates to study medicine in China. I received a letter of acceptance and was already a foot inside the aeroplane when suddenly my course changed direction. I was fortunate to be presented with an opportunity to study at The African Leadership Academy. This was a tough decision as the medicine route was secure and the latter option had me sailing into some uncharted waters. I am not one to shy away from climbing the highest mountains and diving into the depths of the sea to reach my destination - as my personality assessment from TEN TALENT humbly stated - so I accepted the challenge. I am proud to say that I was accepted into The African Leadership Academy Class of 2017, and will begin this part of my journey later this year.

Apart from English lessons with the enthusiastic Mrs Harrison, illuminating Physics lessons with Mr Matshika and mystifying maths lessons with Mr Pillay, The Inkanyezi Project has taught me some valuable life skills which I apply in my everyday life. The biggest lessons that I have learnt are:

  1. Seek opportunities and grasp them as they come.
  2. Be flexible whilst planning your course to success and don’t be afraid to venture off your path and take a risk.
  3. Work hard and believe in yourself as you can’t bribe the door on your way to the sky.
  4. ‘Stay humble, don’t pity yourself and don’t forget where you came from’ –Mfundo Radebe (past Inkanyezi & Crawford College learner now enrolled at Harvard).
“Stay humble, don’t pity yourself and don’t forget where you came from
–Mfundo Radebe (past Inkanyezi & Crawford College learner now enrolled at Harvard)

I have also grown as an individual and I have learnt important social skills during our annual camps. I have forged close friendships with many individuals and I hope to sustain these friendships for years to come.

My decision to set a new course was a difficult one to make but I was equipped with the knowledge gained from my supportive teachers from Ridge Park College - Mr Buck, Mrs Moodley, Mr Suleman and Mr Hurribunce - who woke up very early every Saturday, for 3 years, to teach us.

There is nothing holding me back from succeeding at ALA. I can hold my own on the sports field, in a debate and in the classroom. I hope to someday be an established scientist, environmental activist, and humanitarian. The African Leadership Academy will provide me with a platform to undertake independent research and establish a network with like-minded individuals. “Some legends are told, sometimes to dust or to gold but”… I want to be remembered for centuries.