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Skidmore College

My Life at Skidmore: NK Mabaso

August 20, 2018
by Nkosingiphile “NK” Mabaso '19

Born and raised in a small township called Thokoza, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, I, Nkosingiphile “NK” Mabaso, have always known that I was destined for greatness.

My family lived in poverty for years, and I spent my childhood raising my three younger siblings. But even when we had no food to eat, I had no doubt that my family and I would one day experience brighter days.

Although I was raising my siblings, I was fortunate enough to be able to go to school. I attended R. P. Maphanzela Primary School from first through sixth grade. While in sixth grade, I got the life-changing opportunity to apply to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls (OWLAG).

After many tests and interviews, I was selected as one of 61 girls chosen to be a part of the Class of 2014 at OWLAG. OWLAG gave me a level of education I would not have otherwise received because of my socio-economic background. Suddenly, the world was full of possibilities and I could be anything that I wanted to be.

NK Mabaso with Oprah WinfreyAt OWLAG, I was taught to be a leader. And, along the way, I learned a lot about myself.

I learned that I have a passion for working with and helping people. I learned that I too am worthy of great opportunities, no matter my background. I learned how to believe in myself and support my own self-confidence. And with this, I took a leap of faith and applied to Skidmore College. 

I still remember the moment I received the email from Skidmore Admissions. I held my breath. I did not read anything but the first line: “Congratulations!” I cried. Years later, it is still surreal that a girl like me could end up in an institution like this in a completely different country, on a completely different continent.

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Skidmore has been an amazing place to continue growing, learning and leading. Because of the liberal arts education requirements, I have been exposed to things I never knew I was good at or loved. Never did I think I’d now be a senior majoring in sociology and minoring in computer sciences.

But, perhaps most meaningful to me is that I have found sisters and brothers for life at Skidmore. I have met them in clubs like African Heritage Awareness (AHA) and UJIMA, where we bring awareness of African, African-American and Caribbean cultures to the Skidmore campus community. 

I have also met them in mentors—the people that have positively impacted me, believed in me when I did not believe in myself, and changed the trajectory of my life forever. 

I am proud to be a member of this beautiful community and I cannot wait to go out into the world and continue growing. This is merely the beginning.

Skidmore has reaffirmed the belief I have had since I was six years old—I am destined for greatness.

About the Author

NK Mabaso

Nkosingiphile "NK" Mabaso, from Johannesburg, South Africa, is majoring in sociology and minoring in computer science at Skidmore. You can find her assisting members of our community with their gadgets at the IT Help Desk or performing her music in campus events.