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The Smart-est of them all

Blackheath local Ricardo Smart (27) has been bestowed an awe-inspiring honour by the Golden Key International Institution.

Smart was the only African presented with an award at the institution’s prize giving held in Houston, Texas, last month.

Smart received the International Leadership Council (ILC) Award in the Community Leader division.

The event was hosted by the Golden Key Society on Friday, 26 July, in celebration of outstanding leaders from around the globe in one of three areas: student leadership, academic leadership or community leadership.

As the only African being honoured at the prestigious awards, Smart says it was an honour.

“It was very overwhelming when they called me up on stage, giving me a standing ovation,” Smart says recalling that moment and how it is still quite emotional thinking back on it.

Smart, is a first-generation university graduate in his family and is currently pursuing his PhD.

According to Smart, in 2009 his substitute teacher, Charlton Hendricks played a significant role in his decision to pursue academic study in his matric year.

“One of his sessions, he started asking questions like what we wanted to be one day,” Smart recounts. “Everyone started to answer the question – one said they wanted to be a medical doctor, another said they wanted to be a teacher, the other said they wanted to be a mechanic and they were all answering, and I said I wanted to be Doctor Smart. Back then it was associated with a medical doctor,” says Smart.

It was through the good-hearted nature of his former teacher that the doors opened for him to now live up to that name.

“Mr Hendricks got the application form for me and helped me fill it out. He helped with the application fee which was R250. He gave R100 towards my application fee and asked my parents to give R150. Mr Hendricks took the form to the Stellenbosch University Tygerberg Campus – where the medical faculty is,” says Smart.

In 2011, Smart was identified by the Golden Key International Honour Society.

The Golden Key is an invitation-only society at universities which identifies the top 15% students of each course or degree.

“Golden Key created a platform for us to do these projects and supporting them in various areas like transport, different platforms to do this process, support us in various ways,” says Smart.

Smart has received numerous awards for his service work. These include an award from the Rector of Stellenbosch University (US), Professor Wim de Villiers for Rector’s Award for Excellent Achievement for Community Interaction; The Gold Status for completing the 100 hour Community Service challenge from Michelle Pietersen and Avril Whate (Matie Gemeenskap Diens); and overall winner for Mr Matie-Life Community Service Pagent (Student Representative Council) from the US.

Furthermore, Smart has been bestowed the Ambassadors Award for his contribution to excellence within the cluster community; as well as a Media24 Rachel’s Angels Super Mentor Award from Professor Rachel Jafta for his dedication and outstanding contribution to building excellence in high school education.

The list of accolades keeps growing.

Last year he was also recognised by GoodHope FM as one of their Inspiration Youth Leaders.

Presently, Smart is a post-doctoral candidate for Wine Technology at the US – where he obtained an undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences (majoring in Molecular biology and Biotechnology); as well as BSc Honours in Medical Biology and a Masters’ in Microbiology.

While not directly, Smart is well on his way to being the Doctor he dreamed about in high school.

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