A Short Profile of PhD Student, Ricardo Virgill Smart

This is Ricardo Virgill Smart (26) from Blackheath, and yes he is very smart. He obtained his Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology; BSc (Hons) in Medical Microbiology and MSc in Microbiology at the Stellenbosch University (SU). Currently, Mr Smart is busy completing his PhD in Wine Biotechnology at SU.

Mr Smart is a versatile and passionate young man who have completed various positional leadership roles in the student body at SU. As a result of this, he was selected to represent SU at an International Summit hosted by the Golden Key (GK) International Honours Society all the way in Tucson, Arizona in the United States of America (USA) back in 2016! At this summit, the Stellenbosch Chapter received Gold status and a Key Chapter Award. The Key Chapter Award recognises chapters who demonstrate outstanding achievement and contributions in the areas of Golden Key’s three pillars (i.e., Academics, Leadership and Service).

Mr Smart received several awards for his outstanding academic performance and community service. He received a super-mentor award for the Media 24 Rachel’s Angels Mentorship Programme from Professor Rachel Jafta (Chairperson of Media24 Limited) for his dedication and outstanding contribution to building excellence in High School Education during the 2014/2015 cycle. In 2016, he received the Rector’s Award for Excellent Achievement – Community Interaction from Professor Wim de Villiers (Rector and Vice-Chancellor of SU). He also received an Ambassadors Award from the Wimbledon Cluster (SU) in recognition of his continued contribution to excellence within the cluster community and on international platforms. Last year (2017), Mr Smart received an Appreciation and Recognition of Meritorious Service (active 5 years of service) award from GK.

Despite Mr Smart’s academic performance, his love for community service steals the show. One of his greatest contribution comprised of him and his friend (Keenan Herbert) giving free extra in Mathematics and Accounting classes in his community. They tutored a large amount of primary and high school learners from the Blackheath community. Their greatest award from doing this project was when their learners got best achiever in Mathematics, passed matric and got accepted at universities and colleges.



Mr Smart is active in a project called Toasties for Tummies, another fantastic initiative that warmed our hearts. In honour of the Mandela Day, GK together with Matie Gemeenskap Diens (MGD, SU) hosted an Annual “Toasties for Tummies” drive, where staff and students of SU prepared 10 000 sandwiches which were distributed in 34 informal settlements in and around Stellenbosch. Other areas such as Athlone, Blackheath, Goodwood, Kensington, Khayalitsha and Sea point also benefited from this project.

Mr Smart portrays the role of a true Golden Key ambassador by utilising his academic, leadership and service skills in everything he takes on. Currently, Mr Smart serves as the co-vice president of the GK-Stellenbosch Chapter (2016-2018). In 2015, he was the Community Service Director of GK as well as the financial manager for Vesta (a private student organisation of SU). Lastly, he served as the community leader of Blackheath for the Africa Jam Organisation for over ten years (2004-2014).

Mr Smart seems to live a well-rounded life, where both his academics and community service are prioritised. He wants to inspire and motivate the youth to reach their highest potential. Mr Smart has three crucial steps to success, and those are: (i) Be the key to your own strength; (ii) associate yourself with people who have your future as their interest, and (iii) never lose hope in yourself.

So yes, Mr Smart is really smart, but beyond his brilliant mind lies something far greater – a golden heart – which seems to be the key to his roaring success. From his passionate pursuit for education to his community service, Mr Smart took his motto “Be the key to your own strength” and turned them into golden opportunities.

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