Varsity triumph — all six family members graduate

2008-04-17 00:00

The graduation of the youngest member of the Soga family at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday was no ordinary feat — the Sogas can stand tall and declare that they are a family of graduates.

Dad Sizwe, a businessman in the Eastern Cape, holds a BCom degree, while mom Thandeka, a nurse, has a degree in business administration.

Sizwe and Thandeka saw to it that each of their four children followed in their footsteps.

Said Sizwe: "I think it is a beautiful thing. I was the first to graduate because I believe in leading from the front. You have to practise what you preach and lead by example. And that’s exactly what happened. My wife soon followed, then it was my eldest daughter and it went in that order, right to the youngest."

However, academic success came at a price.

Sizwe gave up his nine-to-five job to start a business, which he believed would generate enough cash to put the whole family through tertiary education.

The Sogas’ eldest daughter, Linda (32), graduated with her first degree from Rhodes University. She holds a BA, a BCom and BCom honours.

She said she felt the responsibility to do the right thing and study hard as her siblings were looking up to her.

"I am very proud of my family, especially because of all the sacrifices my parents made. They are now definitely reaping the rewards of their hard work," she said.

Linda works as an insight manager with Standard Bank.

Next in line was Phumza (26), who holds a BA in marketing and communication.

She is an advertising and campaign manager with the Creative Counsel, and is reading for her honours degree.

For Phumza, getting a degree was all about being able to go for any job and being able to aim high.

"We had to get a degree — it was not negotiable. I tried the whole dropping-out thing and it didn’t work. I had to learn the hard way. But looking at some of my friends who rebelled, they now regret not following through. I now realise that my parents wanted to give us a head start in life."

Viwe (24) graduated in 2007 with an LLB from Rhodes University.

This week, Litha (22), the youngest, was awarded a BA in Psychology and Media Studies.

Litha said his decision to pursue a degree was never about parental pressure but about creating better career prospects for himself.

"I rose to the occasion and it is something to be proud of. It’s not as if getting a degree is easy, but it took a lot of sacrifice and putting in the time.

"My advice to all the young people out there is, ‘Even if you fail and don’t succeed the first time, keep positive’."

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