IN the midst of her final exams, the Maritzburg Fever got a chance to catch up with South Africa’s latest up and coming fashion designer, Cheline Jenkins from Cleland, who recently became the recipient of the exclusive Gert Johan Coetzee bursary to study fashion at the North West School of Design (NWSD). “I feel excited about what the future holds,” marveled Cheline, who next year will begin her three- year journey into studying fashion. Cheline has had a deep passion for fashion and creating things since a young age, and after she got her first sewing machine as a Christmas present in Grade 8, she has not looked back.A self-taught fashion enthusiast, Cheline first started creating garments for others when her friend brought material to school and asked her to design some things. “I realised I had this ability and I began to take orders from pupils at school and charging them. “Since then I have created over 35 matric ball dresses, started a small at-home business, and have created outfits for the Durban July,” she said. Being awarded the bursary of her dreams was not easy as Cheline had to go through a rigorous process where she was required to do a test, a fashion analysis assignment, submit a portfolio and have a personal interview with Gert Johan Coetzee. After making it through the semi-finals and finals, she was then requested to make the journey from Pietermaritzburg to a fashion show in Klerksdorp in the North West.“The 12-hour drive was completely worth it when I was awarded the bursary to study toward a fashion degree for three years with all study materials as well as an internship included,” said a grateful Cheline, who added that she can now rest a bit easier knowing that she can study without having to add financial stress onto her parents. “Fashion has helped me find a purpose and it brings me the most joy to see a happy, confident woman wearing something I have made for her,” remarked Cheline. Having put in the work with managing school, a part time job, and designing through many sleepless nights, Cheline can’t help but feel like all her hard work was worth it. Though the bursary covers Cheline’s study material and tuition, she still needs assistance for living expenses such as accommodation and day-to-day costs and is therefore open to any individuals or businesses looking to assist her.