18 June 2020 | Story Nitha Ramnath | Photo Supplied
Mischke Bouwer.

Mischke Bouwer was recently awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study her PhD in Geoscience at the Southern Illinois University (SIU). The duration of the programme at SIU is five years, starting in August 2020.

Fulbright is a scholarship programme that recruits students from all over the world in any field of study to do their postgraduate studies in America. This is done through funding from Fulbright, together with the country's government and American universities. 

“This is not only a funding scholarship, but a supportive community! It really does feel like teamwork so far. The people from Fulbright ensure that the students feel as comfortable and enlightened as possible when leaving the country, and I am sure it will be the same when I arrive in America,” says Mischke.

Mischke considers herself an average girl who grew up in Pretoria; she enrolled at the UFS for a BSc in Geology from 2014 to 2016, followed by an Honours in Geology in 2017, and MSc in Soil Science. 
“I took a big chance by applying for a Fulbright scholarship but did not expect anything, as I felt I would never be good enough – but look where I am now,” says Mischke.

“I am speechless about the scholarship I received. There are many people I would like to thank who helped me along the way to achieve this scholarship. I would love this opportunity to thank all my lecturers from the UFS, both in the departments of Geology and Soil Science. Thanks to my supervisors for always believing in me. A special thanks to Prof Cornie van Huyssteen who was fully behind me, impacting my way of thinking, and teaching me a lot in two years.”

Mischke dedicates this scholarship to the late Prof Marian Tredoux, a true scientist and lecturer in the Department of Geology, who not only contributed greatly to the sciences, but truly impacted her students. “She inspired me to work hard and showed me an example of what a woman in science could be,” says Mischke.

She encourages students to apply for this scholarship, adding that there is nothing to lose. According to Mischke, students are much smarter than they would like to believe and should therefore always be mindful that their future is way brighter than they think.

“Make your role model YOU in 10 years and keep it that way! This way you always have someone to strive for!” says Mischke.

Mischke works on the absorption potential of arsenic and selenium in the field of environmental geochemistry and geochemical modelling. She hopes to return to South Africa with this knowledge and to make a difference in the remediation and rehabilitation of mines. 

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