How my life was irrevocably impacted when I benefited from the Bridge House Bursary Fund


In 2002, at the age of thirteen, my little life was irrevocably impacted when I became one of the fortunate individuals who benefited from the Bridge House bursary fund. One of the incredible teachers at my primary school, Mrs Isaacs, saw something in me that others knew existed but that I did not have the courage and heart to own, and she assisted in my application. At the time, my world was unimaginably small and what I did not know was that, by going to Bridge House, I had embarked on a journey which would meticulously and at times, painstakingly mould my mind into the person I am today. Each and every educator I had the privilege of being taught by, the deep and meaningful friendships I enjoyed as well as the many adventures I got to experience on my five-year journey of “becoming,” were all integral contributors to the space I find myself in now.

It would be remiss of me not to note that I am one of the few individuals who had the bittersweet opportunity of moving through the stark juxtaposition of abundance and scarcity, as I journeyed home to the Cape Flats every evening after school. I tried my best to weave a quilt between the two worlds and to endeavor to make meaning out of it, but it would take my little mind and heart many years before I could understand any of it. It took time to understand that there was an appointed space for each of these opposing worlds, and while I could never really comprehend my place in it, what I came to know for sure was that my time at Bridge House would be the tool to carve out a space that I would one day claim as my own, somewhere within my quilt.

I was a diligent, honest, and consistent student. I tried my very best to maintain exemplary academic performance because I was very well aware that I was running a race that few of my peers would ever have to, and that there would be no water for me along the way, no rest, no slowing down, only the relentless race, a race I knew I could not afford to lose, even at the tender age of 13. This fear and drive helped me matriculate with excellent results and, based on these results, I received an entrance scholarship from the University of Cape Town based on merit, which covered some of my tuition for the first year of study. I also managed to secure a bursary from a government department which covered full tuition of my BSc.Construction Studies degree, as well as an honours degree in Quantity Surveying thereafter.

During my final year research presentation, a recruiter from a large parastatal took note of my group research project and invited our group to interview for graduate-in-training positions within the organisation. I was successful at the interview and landed my first job as a graduate Quantity Surveyor in 2011. During my 10-year tenure with the organisation I undertook roles that included quantity surveyor, project planner, planning manager, capital advisory specialist, subject matter expert in planning and scheduling and some voluntary project management roles. During this time, I also thought it may be helpful for a female within the male-dominated construction industry to acquire professional registration both locally and internationally in the disciplines of Quantity Surveying and Planning and Scheduling. In my commitment to learning for life, a philosophy I learned at Bridge House, I continued my studies by pursuing a Postgraduate diploma in Project Management from the University of Cape Town and later an MBA at GIBS.

In 2022, I joined a reputable international engineering consultancy, after being head-hunted because of my work ethic and reputation in my years in the construction industry. In a very short span of time thereafter I was approached by several other multi-national organisations within the engineering and construction industry, which eventually led to the current leg of my professional journey as a Planning Engineer, currently based in Belgium, working for a multi-national Engineering and Construction company which is known globally for building some of the most awe-inspiring structures, including Dubai’s Burj-Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower.

Although the journey has been long and arduous, I now have the privilege of spending my days solving complex project problems as part of high performing project teams and continuing to foster a lifelong-learning approach to everything I do.

I still share beautiful friendships with people I would not have crossed paths with had I not been given the opportunity to attend Bridge House. I have an almost two-year old son who has the privilege of growing up as part of a global community, experiencing societies, people, places, and cultures so very different from his own roots. My husband and I now have the wonderfully onerous assignment of having to learn both French and Dutch, at the speed of light, to be able to understand our son’s babbling. And while expatriate life has proven not to be for the faint hearted, I embrace it, as this seems to have been the theme of my life’s song thus far, “wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

Truly, as a child playing barefoot in the streets on the Cape Flats, content with the sun beating down on my skin as I played “drie blikkies” with my friends, I could not have imagined I could attend a prestigious institution such as Bridge House, nor be the first in my family to go to university, to spearhead meaningful change in the trajectory of the lives of those in my family who will succeed me, and to make a small contribution to alleviating the unemployment challenge in our country as a co-owner of an emerging fuel business. For this, to the Bridge House community, to its many benevolent donors, to its educators, to the Hill family, to Mrs Isaacs, to my mother, father, and brother, to the Creator, I say an endless thank you.

Nikki Lambert (Matric 2006)