FEEL GOOD | Kindness of strangers: Stellenbosch student has university debt paid off

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Shayen Gomis.
Shayen Gomis.
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  • Shayen Gomis is thrilled that her student debt has been cleared by Good Samaritans she has never met. 
  • The Stellenbosch University psychology student said she checked her emails over the weekend and found out the debt of R15 114.32 was cleared.
  • Once she graduates, her goal is to register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa.

Stellenbosch University psychology student Shayen Gomis is "over the moon" after her student debt was cleared by people she has never met. 

At a time when thousands of students across South Africa struggle with enormous pressure and debt, Gomis was donated the costs of her fourth-year studies through Feenix and the V&A Waterfront.

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Gomis, who grew up in Rondeberg, near Philadelphia, has always had big dreams for her future.

"It was literally a weight off my shoulders, as my debt gave me sleepless nights, wondering how I was going to pay off these fees so that I can graduate," the 23-year-old told News24.

When a lack of funds placed her degree and hopes of giving back to the community in jeopardy, Gomis wasted no time in creating a profile on Feenix, the online student crowdfunding platform where students can fundraise for their outstanding university fees.

Stellenbosch University student

She originally went onto Feenix to look for an internship to clear her debt, but saw the success others had in raising money to pay off outstanding fees.

She said she received the call in June with the good news that a "Good Samaritan" had cleared her student debt of R15 114.32.

"It still feels 'surreal' that someone saw my plight on the student crowd funder Feenix and decided to clear my debt."

Gomis said that she wrote a letter to her sponsors thanking them for their immense generosity.

She is now aiming to graduate and serve her community as a psychologist.

She said:

I love listening to people, providing them with strategies and tools to improve their lives. I love empowering people through knowledge and helping them grow and evolve, and once I have graduated, I hope to plough back into the community around me to inspire and empower individuals.

She continued: "I want to be a resource and asset for those who need psychological assistance."

It has not been an easy time trying to study online during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"There were plenty of days I felt that I can’t do this anymore, it's too much for me. But with the strong support from my family, I managed to pull myself together," Gomis said.

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But she was always carrying the niggling worry that she would not be able to graduate unless she had paid off her debt.

Cara-Jean Petersen, Feenix Student Engagement Manager, said Gomis's profile stood out and resonated with the V&A Waterfront's CSI programme.

"The beauty of the Feenix platform is that it allows potential funders to connect with students' personal stories, who they are and the communities they are from. It allows them to put a face and a name to the futures they invest in," she said.

Donald Kau, Head of PR and Communications at the V&A Waterfront, said Feenix had built an innovative platform to help young bright minds of the future access the funding they need to achieve their dreams. 

“The V&A Waterfront’s Our Community Programme is dedicated to making opportunities for outstanding individuals such as Shayen. We wish Shayen all of the best in her career," he said. 

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