Graduate makes it against all odds

2013-04-24 00:00

LONDIWE Magagula’s parents were not there to see their daughter being capped as a bachelor of science yesterday.

But Magagula was supported by her sister, Coreen Maphanga, who saw her youngest sister fulfill her life’s dream.

Magagula’s father died when she was in Grade 7. Her mother died in 2009.

Even though the pain was unbearable at times, Magagula said, her faith in God kept her going.

“My dad’s long illness and his losing his job while I was in second grade meant that I had no finances reserved for tertiary studies.

“A degree was the furthest I dreamt at the time.”

Magagula struggled financially during her first few months at varsity, but she received a grant because of her excellent academic results.

In 2011 she was part of an undergraduate vacation apprenticeship programme organised by Professor Colleen Downs, which also helped her financially. She began mentoring students outside the academic setting.

Maphanga, who owns a tuck shop, had to be a mother to a family of six children.

Magagula said: “My sister has four children of her own. But at times she had to sacrifice her stock money to make sure I had my transport fare and food.

“I think she knows that I was close to my mom so she went the extra mile to make sure she filled that gap.”

She is the first member of her family to graduate from university. With her B.Sc in environmental science, she is reading for an honours degree in ecology and wildlife conservation and management, and hopes to take up a career doing research in environmental ecology.

But while she wants to study further, she believes she cannot be selfish and must help to support her family.

“Coming from a poor background taught me to take ­responsibility and shape my life with each little step that I take,” she said.

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