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Student testimonials

Some students share their experiences of working with the Knowledge Co-op:

Laura Irvine, 2016:

Social Anthropology Honours

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
Working with the Knowledge Co-Op has been rewarding in so many ways. Being able to choose a project of personal interest makes sure that you stay motivated when the going gets tough, and there is so much to choose from! The partnership is another kind of accountability that really helps the project to completion. I was lucky that my partner was very involved in getting me to my field (my accommodation was generously funded) and introducing me to key informants. I would not have been able to produce the same calibre of study on my own. I also appreciated immensely that my work has an after-life, and I wasn't just talking to a blank wall, my thesis left on a shelf to collect dust. My work is of value to a company that is trying to better the lives of others, and being able to contribute to that is truly special. Thank you so much to Barbara and Mpho, who were always ready to help and cheer me on. I am definitely recommending the Knowledge Co-Op to others who would like to make a real impact with their dissertation

Luke Oliver, 2016: Information Systems Undergraduate

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
My experience with the UCT Knowledge Co-op was exciting and rewarding.  I was able to gain experience on how to implement the theoretical aspects, practically in a real life situation.  It was a very useful learning experience to understand how data is collected, transformed and then presented to the user in a meaningful and useful format.  Being able to build a program for a community based event was rewarding as it enabled the organisers of the event to better collect, manage and report on the attendance data.

Olga Simanga, 2016: Social Development Masters

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
Working with Co-op has been a great journey for me. Not only did it enhance my knowledge about Social Development, but I also learnt about the importance of having realistic achievable goals. The Co-op facilitated my internship with Embrace Dignity (ED) which I truly loved because I am passionate about women empowerment and this was the perfect platform.  I learnt so much about myself, the organisation and the importance of my specialisation in development. I am overwhelmed by the experience and am sincerely grateful for the support and attention I received from the Co-op and ED.

Kerry-Lee Black (Louw), 2016:

Psychology Honours

 

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
I wanted my honours year to mean more than just obtaining another degree, my research to be relevant and beneficial to others even if only in a small way. The Knowledge Co-op answered this need of mine. Not only did they put me in contact with an organisation which needed research, they mentored and monitored the process to ensure that both parties could benefit through the relationship. Furthermore, the usually dreaded task of finding participants and the data collection was made easy because the organisation did everything they could to help my research run smoothly. I am deeply grateful for this.

Simone Peters, 2015-16 Psychology Masters

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
Working with Knowledge Co-op was a great experience; they enabled me to access a population which often goes unnoticed.  Working with SWEAT was great; everyone was so welcoming and cooperative throughout my study. I learnt about the complexities of what it means to be a sex worker in Cape Town. I also really appreciated how the Knowledge Co-op helped me in every step of my research, checking in on me and making sure my research process was running as smoothly as possible. I really am grateful for this partnership and I recommend the Co-op route to all students.

Carla Espost, 2014-16; Film & Media Masters

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
It was a great privilege to be working with the Co-op. It understands how to bring together academia and non-profits in a way that creates beneficial results for both, but most importantly aims towards bettering the world we live in. Without the backing of the Co-op I would not have been able to attempt changing the lives of young children striving for a better education. Tertiary education is such a privilege; putting back into the community shouldn't even be an option, it should be a must. Thanks to the Knowledge Co-op I came to realise the importance of sustainable research.

Prianka Parusnath, 2015:  MSc Speech-Language Pathology

What I gained from working on a Co-op project: 
To me, working with the Co-Op opened my eyes to where my research fit in to my community. It became so much more than a project on paper, it allowed me to see that my work had very real implications. This to me was the most invaluable and inspiring part of my entire project that kept me motivated and  determined to produce the best work I could.  I learned the true meaning of partnership and that made all the difference. My research was no longer just for the purpose of a degree but for me to find a way to better my community.

Louise Stoch, 2015: Information Systems Honours

What I gained from working on a Co-op project: 
My experience working with the Knowledge Co-op was enriching and rewarding. They were very efficient and helpful in putting myself and my peers in touch with an organisation that we felt gave us a thought provoking experience. They assisted us in using our skills to make a difference in other people’s lives and also gave us the opportunity to reflect on that time spent doing so. Reflecting was what allowed me to realise the true value one derives from helping others, and without the Knowledge Co-op I never would have taken the time to do so.

Brian Manda, 2015: Information Systems Honours

What I gained from working on a Co-op project: 
My time at ORT showed me that simple toys can be used as instruments to teach children fundament aspects of team work, asking for help and most importantly creative problem solving. I also got to work for the Knowledge Co-op, editing their website and learning new skill from a tool I had never used before. 
Volunteering was something new to me I am grateful for the experiences and treasured memories I gained. It was a journey which allowed me to meet people and learn a lot and make a small contribution to someone’s life along the way. 

Lara Karasellos, 2014:  Honours in Sociology

What I gained from working on a Co-op project: 
Many Honours students have difficulty choosing a research project topic as they are relatively new to the field and new to research in general. When I began Honours I did not have a strong inclination for one topic in particular but I knew that I didn’t want to dedicate a year of my life to a research topic just for the sake of it. The Co-Op allowed me to work on a topic that was useful and beneficial for the school concerned. I knew my research was actually needed and helpful, and this made the experience so much more fulfilling. 

Matilda Foli, 2014:
Information Systems Honours

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
My experience with the Knowledge Co-op was a memorable one. What began as just a graduation requirement (30 hours community service) became a life changing experience. Initially I provided computer skills to grade 7 learners at a school in Gugulethu. And later with an organisation called Yabonga, where I gave Excel training to some staff members. What I realised was that adults learn and understand better through practice while children learn through explaining concepts . This was a phenomenal discovery for me. Overall , I'm sincerely grateful that I was given a chance to make a difference in people's lives.

Elretha Bartlett, 2014:
Psychology Honours

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
Working through UCT Knowledge Co-op has been a wonderful experience. It is a great feeling realising that you make a valuable contribution to a non-profit organisation that is actually going to make use of the findings of your research project. The staff at the Knowledge Co-op encouraged me throughout the project and liaised with SWEAT (the organisation I worked with) on my behalf. Working through the Knowledge Co-op also gave me the opportunity to make contact with students doing similar projects. The process of working with SWEAT was very rewarding. I listened to the stories of female sex workers. Their stories inspired me and challenged my own biases and preconceptions. 

Amy Gorven, 2014:
Psychology Honours

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
Doing a project with the Knowledge Co-op has been a rich and rewarding experience. Through the Co-op I was able to partner with SWEAT to produce a thesis answering the question of 'how sex workers construct their experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV)'. This research was especially significant because SWEAT had requested more information to be able to better support its members. Thus, I did a thesis which contributed to the psychological literature on IPV, and was also helpful to female sex workers in CT. This research certainly pushed me out of my comfort zone, but was also humbling and personally enriching.

Chloe Woodin, 2014:
Hons - Women and Law

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
I got so much more out of my research once the Co-op put me in touch with an NGO. Through them I conducted research on the partial criminalisation model for prostitution in South Africa, focusing on the potential punishments for offenders. The Co-op facilitated meetings and gave me an opportunity to present my findings to the NGO. This made me feel like my work actually counted for something and would be influential in further work done by the NGO. I had a great support system throughout the process and a wonderful feeling of satisfaction in presenting the final product.

Thembelihle Bongwana; 2013:
Gender studies, Honours

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
This was an exciting experience for me; I learnt quite a lot. Most importantly was the invaluable support I got from both the NGO and Knowledge Co-op by constantly checking up on me, making sure I was okay and coping with the daily challenges that come with being a Researcher. I was also able to form solid relations with the NGO, and was invited to all their events to give talks/ presentations. It got to a place where I was so comfortable with everyone in the Organisation. I have the Knowledge Co-op to thank for the opportunity it gave me.

Michaella Allen; 2013:
Rapid Research intern

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
Volunteering for the UCT Knowledge Co-op was truly a rewarding experience as it allowed me to gain appreciation for organisations who work to uplift and empower their community. Unless one works with individuals from different communities, the challenges experienced by NGOs to uplift low-income areas, and their attempts to overcome them, can't be understood. I am now more socially-aware, and have learnt how to look at situations more analytically from different perspectives. The compassionate team at Co-op has developed my eagerness to volunteer for community projects.

Sekai Muvembi , 2011:
Information Systems Honours

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
Being part of the Knowledge Co-op family and its purpose to address the needs of communities was a great honour. Working on a content based management system for Epilepsy South Africa translated further than merely applying my IT skills. It involved providing a solution that would assist people with a real need who have dedicated their lives to improving those of Epilepsy patients. l was greatly determined to make an impact within the time frame we had to complete the project. Working with the Knowledge Co-op not only enhanced my skills set but instilled a culture of giving.

Whitney Barnett 2011-2012:
Public Health, Masters

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
The Co-op facilitated my partnership with Medicens sans Frontieres to investigate challenges faced by HIV positive patients on second line antiretrovirals. I appreciate the opportunity to gain first hand research experience on a critical issue in health service delivery as well as valuable exposure to an international NGO. As a result, I have completed my thesis and facilitated dissemination of findings to clinic staff and managers to help improve care for this patient population.

Ewan James, 2012:
Information Systems Honours

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
For personal reasons, epilepsy is an issue close to my heart and yet I had never done anything to contribute to helping those with epilepsy. The process of helping this organisation, and seeing the direct effect it can have has really made an impact on me and changed my definition of what it means to "make a difference". I also got a chance to put into practice everything I've learned during my IS course on a small scale, from needs assessment, resource consideration, programming, and usability testing and training.

Penlope Yaguma, 2012:
Electrical & Computer Engineering Volunteer with CHOSA (PC training) and the Knowledge Co-op

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
My main role as a volunteer was to teach basic computer skills to the "mamas" who run several orphanages in township areas of Cape Town over the mid-year vacation. The guidance and support from CHOSA made the transition from engineering student to volunteer a whole lot easier. I had experiences I had never had before: I met and formed friendships with amazing people; and...I even learned a new language!! I have a completely new outlook on volunteering and doing community work.
The Co-op is in need of ongoing changes in the Website, brochures, project database, all of which I was fortunate enough to be a part of. I have done a couple of internships with companies before, but none of these gave me the same exposure to various roles as the Co-op did. It facilitated my acquisition of new skills such as web design in HTML. In addition my internship opened other doors for me, enabling me to fit into various community out-reach societies on campus and enhancing my chances of getting onto society committees.

Anja Mulder, 2012:
Gender Studies honours

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
Early in 2012 I came across a project posted by UCT’s Knowledge Co-op. With the Co-op’s help I was able to interview breast cancer patients from two of CANSA’s care facilities to explore their experiences of the often lengthy waiting period between initial diagnosis and treatment. Thanks to the Knowledge Co-op I met some incredible women, whose stories and experiences I never would have been able to access on my own. I am so grateful for their time and honesty and for the Co-op’s support throughout the year. It has been an amazing experience!

9 students, 2012:
BAS (Honours) Architecture

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
The involvement of the UCT Knowledge Co-op on the Kannemeyer School Hall Design Project was a collaboration that offered much value to the management, mediation and required output for this endeavour. In a student project that saw the engagement of multiple external parties, the involvement of the Co-op proved to be crucial in establishing the roles and expectations of each member. The entire team was pleased with the final client output generated and hope to work with the Co-op in the future.

Rebecca Goba, 2011:
Information Systems Honours

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
Working with Knowledge Co-op was an extremely rewarding experience as I got to be involved with a department that aims to transform the lives of many communities. I was involved in a project that built a prototype system for a real-world problem, i.e. to help Epilepsy South Africa with the management of their information and data. I not only got the opportunity to harness my skills in a project that could help an organisation, but I was also able to learn more about epilepsy itself. My biggest lesson was that every human being has the ability to change the life of another person with whatever gift they have.

Teresa Perez, 2011
Sociology Masters & Volunteer
with the UCT Knowledge Co-op

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
I gained unique insights into the workings of project management at a time when the Co-op was being established, which means that I have been able to play a small part in developing an initiative from its beginnings, which is rare. Since working here I have developed numerous transferable skills, such as I.T and communication. There was scope to find my own solutions to the tasks that I have been given, including conducting my own research. My inclusion in collaborations with the project manager and other specialists has been exceptional. Overall, the experience has been invaluable.
It is difficult to strike up relationships with people in community groups, and the UCT Knowledge Co-op has made this infinitely easier. From setting up initial meetings with the community group that I chose from the list on the Available projects page, through to providing additional support throughout my thesis, the Co-op has been fantastic. My experiences in the community group offered an important alternative perspective on theories in my courses.

Konke Mazwai, 2011
BSc. Eng (Mechanical Engineering)

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
I worked with U.C.T. knowledge Co-op because of the type of project that was available. Designing a low cost Fencing material for a Pre-School in a low income area not only allowed me to give a helping hand in a low income society, but it also fulfilled the requirements for my Final Year Individual Research Project.
As an Engineering student, working in a low income community exposed me to fundamental Socio-economic issues that were very detached from Engineering. The crime rate, drug abuse and poverty in the community, all had to be factored in to provide an Engineering solution.
Suvi Hakala, 2011
Honours in Psychology
What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
Working with the UCT Knowledge Co-op was an inspiring experience. Thanks to the Co-op, I was able to participate in research that works with real people, and real problems in the community, and maybe even make a difference'. The project was definitely a learning curve, but gave me some truly unforgettable memories of humanity and resilience. The staff of the Co-op created the necessary links between students and the cooperating NGOs, and without them the research would not have been possible.

Kara Silberthau, 2011
BA (Urban Studies, Health & Societies)

What I gained from working on a Co-op project:
As a student (from University of Pennsylvania) who enjoys observing and learning from my surroundings, I am also enthusiastic about taking a hands on approach to learn more about my surroundings, which I did during the Tile Mural Project. The Athlone Tile Mural Project began when I met with the Knowledge Co op and discussed creating a mural as an empowering community building project. The Knowledge Co op identified and introduced me to a community leader who was eager to participate and facilitate the mural with the youth population. The project was the culminating effort to give back to Cape Town, the city I learned to call home, as well as the beginning of a new friendship. See http://tilemuralproject.blogspot.com