May 20th, 2019
South African alum of GC serves as lead engineer superintendent in Australia
CELD scholarship, supportive environment keys to Dlamini's success
A joint vision by former Garrett College president, Steve Herman, and the Coalition for Effective Local Democracy (CELD), enabled Bongani Dlamini to become the first resident of South Africa to attend Garrett College.
The philosophy – "Bring the world to Garrett and take Garrett to the world" – serves as the guiding principle for CELD, led by Garrett County residents Mike and Vianne Bell. The Bells and Dr. Herman aimed to promote cultural exchange and diversity at Garrett College through the recruitment of international students.
A second principle is to provide assistance so that international students, who might not have the financial means to do so, may fulfill their dreams of studying in the United States.
Dlamini was the first Wilton Mkwayi International Fellowship recipient at Garrett College.
One of the top anti-apartheid leaders in South Africa in the early 1950s and 1960s, Mkwayi was imprisoned with Nelson Mandela for over 25 years on Robben Island.
Bongani Dlamini (center) is pictured at his graduation at West Virginia University, with his parents, who traveled from South Africa to attend commencement.
"Wilton Mkwayi valued education above all," noted Vianne Bell. "He said knowledge through education was something no one could take away from you.
"CELD created the fellowship in Mkwayi's name to help disadvantaged Africans come to the United States to obtain a college education by beginning at Garrett College," added Bell.
"Garrett was generous enough to offer me a scholarship to attend, and CELD covered my housing costs completely," said Dlamini.
Dlamini graduated from Garrett College with an associate's degree and transferred to West Virginia University. At WVU, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in both mineral engineering and geology, prior to completing his Master of Science degree in mining engineering.
His dream job was to be an engineer.
"I was able to complete several pre-engineering courses and requirements at GC, including calculus, statistics, chemistry and physics. This set me on track to transfer to WVU to enroll in the engineering program and ultimately complete my degree in engineering," Dlamini said.
Being a student immersed in a new country for the first time can present many challenges, including the desire to be successful in a completely different culture.
"I needed that intimate and supportive environment that Garrett College provided," stated Dlamini. "During my time at Garrett, I always felt that everyone – faculty, staff and the college community – wanted me to succeed. Many of these individuals were instrumental in helping me transfer to WVU even after I completed my studies at Garrett.
"I've built long-lasting relationships with people from all over the world as well as within the Garrett County community," added Dlamini.
In addition to the Bells and Herman, Dlamini gives credit to the following individuals who contributed to his success, including: Virginia Broaddus, Judy Carbone, Kim DeGiovanni, Dee Durst, Tim Foster, Linda Griffith, Linda May, Stacey Miller, Mike Nedrow, Nancy Priselac, Lynn Rivera, Calvin Simms and Jerry Zimmerman, all current or former staff and/or faculty members of GC; Erik Crow, Krystle Dumire, Sarah Myers, and Amy Shaffer, alumni of GC; and his fellow international students. "Bongani felt the weight of his community and what it meant to have this opportunity," stated Vianne Bell. "He exceed our expectations and we are very proud of him. We are delighted that Garrett College was such an integral part of his success."
Today, Dlamini is a Geology & Geotechnical Engineering Superintendent for Anglo-American Metallurgical Coal – Grasstree Underground Mine located in Queensland, Australia.
In his current role, he leads a team of technical professionals, geotechnical engineers and geologists, at an underground longwall coal mine.
A typical day for Dlamini might consist of reviewing his team's engineering designs, mentoring and/or coaching team members, or an underground trip to inspect stability of excavations. "Our primary objective is to ensure the safety of underground miners by maintaining the stability of all underground excavations, or tunnels," noted Dlamini. "This can be achieved through rigorous engineering support, or reinforcement, of the designs and monitoring."
Dlamini enjoys the working environment and relationships within his team; however, their top focus is on establishing and maintaining a safe work environment. "For every shift, day, week, month and year that goes by without an instability, or fall-of-ground incident, we are provided with the greatest satisfaction, knowing each and every one of us is contributing towards a safe mining operation," Dlamini stated.