A few years ago, 15-year-old Luyanda Mazibuko faced an uncertain future – his adoptive parents could not pay for his education. But today, the orphan attends one of the best schools in the country and may just be South Africa’s next astronaut, thanks to the Virgin Galactic Unite South Africa Scholarship Program.
The scholarship was launched in 2013 by Virgin Galactic, the commercial spaceflight company under the Virgin Group owned by UK businessman Sir Richard Branson, to celebrate Mandela Day. The aim was to identifying and give one South African child in need a three-year science and maths scholarship to attend a prestigious school where they can get quality education.
As a beneficiary of the scholarship, Mazibuko will also receive mentorship and support from the Virgin Galactic staff.
“Luyanda has been described by staff at the school as a gifted scholar an all-rounder; as a “conscientious, hard-working student, a formidable musician; neat boarder; and as an inspiration to other boys… We think Luyanda is a worthy recipient of this scholarship and will make the most of the opportunities offered to him. [sic],” said Maja Muric, Galactic Unite Manager.
“Virgin Galactic looks forward to supporting Galactic Unite in their vision that in this new age of commercial space travel, educating the future generations on the advances in science and technology will help unlock answers to global challenges and change the world for the better,” the company said back in 2013.
To read the interview between one of the Virgin Galactic future astronauts and Mazibuko click here.