From cleaner to graduate: KZN woman graduates with her BA degree

From cleaner to graduate: KZN woman graduates with her BA degree

Definitely what we need to hear this Appreciation Monday...

From cleaner to graduate, a KZN woman graduates with her BA degree...

It is sometimes quite easy to become complacent in life and forget about those things that we have that others yearn for. One of those things is education. The access to education definitely should be accessible to everyone, but that's not always the case. 

It certainly was not the case for Sthembile Mngwengwe, who recently graduated from the University of KwaZulu-Natal with her Bachelors of Social Science Degree. Today we are appreciating her story and her perseverance. 

Sthembile matriculated in 1998 and was unable to study further. After struggling to find a job, she eventually found a job as a cleaner. In 2006 she was transferred to the UKZN campus and has been cleaning there for 14 years. 

After wondering day in and out what it would feel like to study at the campus, an opportunity arose and things started changing for her. 

"Day after day, she would perform her cleaning duties while wondering what it would be like to attend a lecture. As luck would have it, in 2016 UKZN decided to insource their contractors. This meant Sthembile would enjoy benefits such as studying at the university for free." (News24)

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In 2018, she decided to take the plunge and enrol for a Bachelor of Social Science degree, and things proved more challenging that she thought it would be. Of course, it had been a considerable amount of time since she last studied, but that wasn't going to stop her. 

"It had been about 20 years since she had last sat in a classroom and Sthembile felt like a fish out of water. University, she realised, was harder than high school. She didn’t do well during her first year and had to write supplementary exams for all her modules." (News24)

However, her support system came to her defence and helped her through this transitional period. Her daughter, her colleagues, and her university friends all came together to encourage her. 

Her friends started a study group and this helped her understand the material. She passed her supplementary examinations. That wasn't her only challenge, juggling her cleaning job and attending lectures and finding time to study were all challenges that she conquered. 

She is the epitome of making it work and striving to achieve her dream against all odds. We love her story and more than that the teachings behind it. Yes, it's important to take opportunities and believe in yourself, but sometimes it's also important to have a support system. 

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