Students inspire with bitter-sweet success

2015-08-26 06:00
MATSHEDISO MOKOENA and Thato Monkoe, students of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Qwaqwa Campus.

MATSHEDISO MOKOENA and Thato Monkoe, students of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Qwaqwa Campus. Photo: Supplied

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PHUTHADITJHABA. – The University of the Free State (UFS) is fast becoming the institution of choice for first-generation students from across the country and beyond.

When Thato Monkoe and Matshediso Mokoena sat for their final matric examination in 2014, what they had in mind was not just passing – rather passing with flying colours.

Little did they know that passing well would place so much responsibility on their shoulders.

They both come from rural and disadvantaged backgrounds. They are first-year students of the Qwaqwa Campus of the UFS and are the first in their families to study at a university.

Monkoe describes his situation as, “sad and good at the same time”.

“It is good, because I am the first one at home to have completed my matric and to have gone on to study at a tertiary institution. At the same time, it is sad, as I feel sorry for my siblings who, for various reasons, did not have similar opportunities when they opted out of school,” Monkoe, a BEd student, says.

He says his sister and brother, as well as the rest of his family, perceive him as the one with brains. He says this makes him uncomfortable.

“However, I am up for the challenge to be the first one in my family to graduate with a degree.”

Mokoena, a BSc student – who obtained distinctions in Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Life Sciences last year – says she is over the moon to be a university student.

“As much as my family is supportive, there, is always pressure, as they expect the best from me,” Mokoena says.

“The pressure does not only come from my family. My entire community looks up to me, and they can’t stop talking about my achievements.”

Both Monkoe and Mokoena are happy that the dark cloud of doubt about academic achievement in their families has finally disappeared.

“At least someone in my family is hard at work carving out her future, and willing to set a good example. That person is me,” says Mokoena, who aspires to be a medical doctor. She has a sister in gr. 8.

The duo are just two of hundreds of students making good use of the UFS’s commitment to attract excellent and diverse students at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels, as reflected in the Strategic Plan 2015-’20

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