Where I Became weaves the stories of 14 South African women who, though hailing from diverse backgrounds, all grew up under the oppressive system of Apartheid. When offered the opportunity to leave South Africa and study at Smith College under a full scholarship program, each woman summoned courage, faith, and determination in leaving home and family for the opportunity of a lifetime.

Set against the backdrop of the complex history of apartheid in South Africa, we follow the journeys of these women, narrated in their own voices and depicted in personal photos, archival footage, and present-day interviews, as they grow up in South Africa and come into their own at Smith. The tapestry of these women’s stories is made richer by the indelible bonds of long-lasting friendship and sisterhood, which were forged in their resolve to leave everything that was familiar, in pursuit of education, and a chance for a better life.

Where I Became shares deeply personal reflections on coming of age, the difficulties of facing great challenges with determination and resolve, and the power of embracing one’s identity and journey. In a world that so often rejects those who dress differently, speak differently, or come from a far-away place, Where I Became offers a much-needed uplifting tale of hope and courage.

Producers Jane Dawson Shang and Tandiwe Njobe were introduced in 2012 as alumnae of Smith College, and they came together in an unlikely partnership to produce the film. Their bond was grounded in their shared experience at Smith College, and they were inspired to uncover the story behind Smith’s South African Scholarship Program. Collaborative research connected them with the Scholars, and the many others who played a supporting role in this project. They brought on director Kate Geis in 2018, and filmed in both South Africa and the US to bring this film to life. As an entirely women-led film, Where I Became is a testament to the power of women’s voices, especially when united.