Siphephelo Mcineka

From Rural South Africa to William Woods University

Opportunities often present themselves in unexpected ways, leading us down paths we never imagined. For Siphephelo Mcineka, the journey to William Woods University was not a choice he made, but rather a door opened by fate.

Back in 2016, Siphephelo met Fay Lowry, the founder of the Heart That Gives Foundation, in his hometown Eshowe, South Africa. The Heart That Gives Foundation is a 501c3 organization that was established to help the hungry and the poor people of the Kwazulu Natal region of South Africa, and the orphan children and disabled people of Uganda. Fay recognized Siphephelo’s potential during their conversation. Witnessing his brightness and proficiency in English, she wanted to provide him with a better education than what he was currently receiving with the assistance of the Heart That Gives Foundation.

The Foundation ended up changing Siphephelo’s life by sponsoring his entire high school education from 2017 to 2021. Throughout this period, he attended a private school in South Africa, unlocking opportunities he never dreamed possible. And as Siphephelo approached the end of his high school journey, discussions about his future led to the idea of attending a university in America.

“When I met Fay Lowry, I had a moment of awakening,” Siphephelo said. “I thought that I was going to live in a small rural town in South Africa for the rest of my life. She opened the doors for me and she continues to do that. She showed me my true potential and what I can do in this life.”

When looking into universities, Siphephelo knew he wanted to attend a smaller school. When hearing this, Fay knew exactly where he should go and who to talk to get him there – none other than William Woods’ own Gayle Lampe.

“When Siphephelo graduated from High School in South Africa, Fay and I talked about him attending William Woods. However, we needed money to pay for his education. Fay put the need out there on Facebook and Mary Gaylord, a wonderful person Fay and I both know from horse shows, said she would pay for him to attend WWU,” stated Gayle.

Gayle Lampe and Siphephelo Mcineka

Gayle assured Siphephelo by emphasizing that the education and environment at The Woods would be a perfect fit for him. Through the Foundation and Mary Gaylord, Siphephelo’s education was fully sponsored. Majoring in Biology with a concentration in Pre-Med and a minor in Theater, Siphephelo aspires to become a dermatologist while holding on to his passion for acting. After he graduates in 2026, he plans to attend medical school in America and obtain his doctorate in dermatology.

“I just love having Siphephelo here…he is such a joy. He is a wonderful science student, and he has gotten involved in many other activities, too. For example, he has been in several plays, and he is a very good actor! Who knew!! I love spending time with him. Siphephelo is one of the most outstanding young men I have ever known, and we are so very fortunate to have him here with us at William Woods,” exclaimed Gayle.

Siphephelo’s journey from a small rural town in South Africa to William Woods University demonstrates the power of education, kindness, and unexpected connections. His story encourages us to embrace the opportunities that arise, even in the face of adversity.