When it comes to contributing to society, PhD student, Ricardo Smart is a machine. As a result of his contribution to the numerous community projects he has been involved in, the Golden Key International Honour Society bestowed upon him the International Leadership Council Award.
The award, which he received in Texas in the US, recognizes outstanding leaders from around the globe in one of three areas: student leadership, academic leadership or community leadership. The Golden Key Society is made up the top 15% of students in all universities around the globe.
As a result of his community project involvement, Ricardo has received several awards from Stellenbosch University, where he is currently completing his PhD at the Institution of Wine Biotechnology. These include the Rector’s Award for Excellent Achievement in Community Interaction, the Ambassadors Award, the Media24 Rachel’s Angels Super Mentor Award for his work in high school education, and the Gold Status for completing the 100 hour Community Service challenge. He also won the Mr Matie-Life Community Service Pageant and GoodHope FM recognized him as one of their Inspiration Youth Leaders.
One of the projects that is closest to Ricardo’s heart is the free Mathematics and Accounting classes he gave to primary school and high school learners in his hometown of Blackheath. Along with his friend, Keenan Herbert, the classes helped learners excel in these subjects and also got them accepted to universities and colleges. Some of his learners even managed to get the ‘best achievers award’ for Mathematics and/or Accounting.
Another project that he cherishes is the Golden Key Society’s ‘Toasties for Tummies’. They made over 10 000 sandwiches in 2017 and 2018 and donated and distributed it to over 20 communities in and around the greater Stellenbosch. The beneficiaries of this project included clinics, day and aftercare, day hospitals, disaster unit, elderly homes, home shelters, homeless individuals and youth organizations.
Ricardo says that nothing gives him more joy than to see the smiles on the faces of kids. He adds that these projects are not just about giving food and classes to disadvantaged communities, but also about restoring their dignity and confidence.