Edgemead student raises funds for fees

Erin Watt, second from left, is raising money to pay for her university fees by holding a concert with a star-studded line-up. Pictured with Erin are, from left, her father Jerry Watt from The Rockets, Shaleen Surtie-Richards and Cedwyn Joel.

After struggling for two years to land a bursary, a UWC student is using the power of showbiz to pay for her studies.

While many students are caught up in the #FeesMustFall movement, Erin Watt, of Edgemead, is holding fund-raiser concerts to get her through her third year of pharmacy studies.

Erin scored an A average in both her first and second year, but she has battled to get a bursary, despite sending off many applications.

That’s when her mom, Alison, came up with the idea of using the concerts to help her daughter.

The fund-raiser show features The Rockets, DJ Uncle Cal, and well-known actors Shaleen Surtie-Richards and Cedwyn Joel.

Two sold-out shows were held in Bothasig and Kraaifontein this past weekend, raising R30 000. A third and final show is planned for Wynberg this Friday, March 17.

Ms Watt said her daughter fell in the so-called “missing middle”: students deemed too rich to qualify for government aid but too poor to afford tuition fees.

“I know of quite a few people who have managed to obtain bursaries that are from the very low income bracket,” said Ms Watt.

Ms Watt, who does admin for The Rockets, of which Erin’s father, Jerry Watt, is a member, said it was challenging being in the music industry which had its “ups and downs”.

She said having three children all studying at the same time had been taxing.

Erin’s elder brother had to leave university and is now studying through Unisa and working at the same time to pay for his studies.

However Ms Watt said she believed trials such as these taught her children “life skills”.

Erin admits she felt disheartened that her A average was not good enough to get her financial aid, but with her mother’s help and her father’s connections in the entertainment business, she hasn’t lost hope.

The money they raise from the concerts should be enough to help with her fees and textbooks, which together cost about R40 000.

Asked how she felt about organising a fund-raiser, Erin jokingly said: “It’s easier than protesting”.

While she sympathises with the student protesters’ arguments, she doesn’t agree with their methods.

“I don’t see how buildings being set alight or throwing stones at non-protesting students helps,” she said.

Erin’s last fund-raiser will be at the Wittebome civic centre, in Wynberg on Friday March 17, at 8pm. Tickets cost R100 if pre-booked and R120 at the door. For more information, call or WhatsApp 083 270 5432.