Gina, on the crest of a wave of personal development and success

When Gina Ella Smith was 8 years old, she wanted to be a writer and a teacher.

Growing up in East London, as what Gina describes to be a happy home with her parents and two sisters, she had always written poetry, as early as Grade 3. “I have always wanted to be a writer and I had always enjoyed teaching and helping my classmates.” Says Gina.

Gina Ella Smith riding the waves

Whilst her passion for writing was still a big part of her, Gina subsequently allowed herself to explore her passion for surfing, which had led to her following in her father’s footsteps to ride the waves.

When Gina turned twelve, their love for the beaches had led her and her family to Jeffrey’s Bay. That same year, the family were approached by Billabong who wanted to sponsor the Smiths. Gina has since been a recipient of the sponsorship for the past ten years.

Gina Ellis Smith, wearing clothing sponsored by Billabong

“Being a sponsored surfer has really helped me maintain a healthy and wholesome lifestyle. I have travelled along the coast of South Africa and internationally for competitions.

I have won two SA titles and I have qualified for the South African team three times to surf in the World Games. So my childhood was full of training, competing and travelling whilst at school. It was great being able to do it all with my sisters.”

Gina Ellis Smith winning a SA title

Surfing was a huge part of Gina’s development stages. Win after win, Gina continued to ride the wave of success.

However, Gina felt that it was time to return to her passion for writing and teaching once again, and focus on her academics.

Today, Gina had just completed her Bachelors in Sociology at Cornerstone Institute, where she majored in Psychology and Sociology. She believes this is a great foundation for journalism. Thereafter, she wants to complete a PGCE that would allow her to teach.

“This was a great foundational degree as it allows me to pursue both my passions of writing and teaching”, says Gina.

Gina Ella Smith

Studying at Cornerstone Institute, Gina realised that she needed much more to gear up for the real world.

“Cornerstone had exceeded my expectations. I thought I would just receive my coursework and assignments but Cornerstone was actually really personal. My participation was highly encouraged in online forums and my lecturers were extremely approachable. I felt like an actual student and not just a number. I did homeschooling in my final years of school so I knew self-discipline would not be an issue, but Cornerstone really made self-study much easier for me.

“The admin assistance was great and I have really enjoyed all of my lecturers. My English lecturer, Melanie Steyn, my psychology lecturer, Kirsty Slessenger, my sociology lecturer, Henrietta Settler and my statistic lecturer, Jabulani Chitanga deserve special mention and praise because, with their help, I have achieved a wealth of knowledge of psychology, sociology, community development, English and most importantly, I walk away with leadership skills, coupled with greater discipline and time management skills.

“I am always inspired by each member of my family and I wish to make them proud. Next year, I will continue with a PGCE – most likely with Cornerstone whilst working more on my writing career.

“Today, I am enlightened by everything I have learned at Cornerstone, especially by everyone who had played a huge role in my development,” Gina says.

Gina had rescripted her story. You can too. Find out how you can enrol at Cornerstone Institute to pursue your passion and #RescriptYourStory.