Iziphozonke Mlambo, a 19-year-old student from Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal and currently studying Human Biology at Biola University in California,  has been included in the top 50 shortlist for the Chegg.org Global Student Prize 2022, an annual $100 000 award to be given to one exceptional student who has made a real impact on learning, the lives of their peers and on society beyond.

Mlambo was selected from almost 7 000 nominations and applications from 150 countries.

The Varkey Foundation partnered with Chegg.org to launch the annual Global Student Prize last year, a sister award to its $1-million Global Teacher Prize. It was established to create a new platform that shines a light on the efforts of extraordinary students everywhere who, together, are reshaping our world for the better. The prize is open to all students who are at least 16 years old and enrolled in an academic institution or training and skills program. Part-time students as well as students enrolled in online courses are also eligible for the prize.

Mlambo was raised in South Africa along with seven other young relatives by his physically challenged uncle after his parents died. He struggled with health problems and financially – often not being able to afford travel to school – but nevertheless excelled academically and never lost sight of his dream to study Medicine and raise up other disadvantaged young people.

Mlambo  is the co-founder and vice-president of Science Buddies, a non-profit organisation that nurtures young scientists by providing them with the opportunity to participate in global science fairs and competitions while giving them access to professional mentors. To date it has reached over 100 learners from different backgrounds, connected them to over 50 mentors, and partnered with over 15 science fairs, societies and competitions worldwide.

He has also launched a non-profit organisation, The Rising Stars Foundation, which focuses on developing youth and is currently focusing on students with university and bursary applications.

Mlambo has represented South Africa at numerous international competitions and fairs across science, public speaking, and creative writing, and is currently one of the executive members of the African Students Association at Biola University.

Dan Rosensweig, CEO of Chegg, comments: “Since its launch last year, the Global Student Prize has given incredible students all over the world a chance to share their stories, connect with each other, and reach influencers in education and beyond. Now, more than ever, students like Iziphozonke deserve to have their stories told and have their voices heard. After all, we need to harness their dreams, their insights, and their creativity to tackle the daunting and urgent challenges facing our world.

“Our finalists this year have made a huge impact in areas from the environment to equality and justice, from health and wellbeing to education and skills, from youth empowerment to ending poverty. I can’t wait to see how this year’s inspiring cohort of changemakers use this platform to make their voices louder, and their work lift up even more lives.”

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, says: “I extend my warmest congratulations to Iziphozonke. His story is a testament to the crucial role that education plays in building a better tomorrow for us all. It is the key to solving humanity’s greatest challenges, from war and conflict to climate change to growing inequality. As time runs out to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, it is more important than ever to prioritize education so we can face the future with confidence.”

Students are assessed on their academic achievement, impact on their peers, how they make a difference in their community and beyond, how they overcome the odds to achieve, how they demonstrate creativity and innovation, and how they operate as global citizens.

The top 10 finalists of the Global Student Prize are expected to be announced in August this year. The winner, who will be announced later in the year, will be chosen from the top 10 finalists by the Global Student Prize Academy.