In this day and age it is a huge relief when you get financial aid to help achieve your dreams.A Northern Cape student and scholarship recipient, Machellene Diergaardt, is following her dream of achieving a qualification that will one day allow her to make a difference in the lives of others and in her community. The 22-year-old Diergaardt, from Olifantshoek in the Gamagara Municipal Region, is benefitting from a scholarship that allowed her to follow her dream of becoming a teacher. She is now in her second year studying towards a B Education degree at the University of the Free State (UFS).This is an opportunity that would not have been possible without the support and funding from the Renewable Energy Investments South Africa (Reisa). “Growing up in a less privileged community has not only offered financial and academic challenges, but has also helped me realise the value of education. “I’ve learned a lot from my teachers, which is why I want to go back to my hometown and use my skills to make a difference to the next generation,” said Diergaardt.Scholarships offer youth the opportunity to fulfil their dreams and career aspirations, in addition to relieving the financial strain on guardians. Financial support of this kind is also often the only option available for after-school education. “The Reisa Scholarship helped reduce my financial burdens as I continue pursuing my education. My mother was very willing to help me out financially, but with four other siblings, this would have been a real struggle,” she explained. The Reisa Scholarship Fund which launched three years ago, aims to provide tertiary education funding for youth living within a 50 km radius of the solar facility. The focus is to contribute towards human resource development in fields considered critical for the South African economy. Study fields include Teaching, Engineering, Natural and Social Sciences, Environment and Nursing.“Learners from local high schools have limited opportunities to access scholarships. “Reisa’s Scholarship Fund specifically targets learners in these beneficiary towns to ensure that the opportunities are afforded to locals and that they do not have to compete against learners from other provinces,” explained Veronique Isaacs, regional community operations manager for Reisa.