FEEL GOOD | 67-year-old student realises his dream of going to university

2020-02-25 06:01
Michael Willemse having a conversation with Rhodes University vice-chancellor Dr Sizwe Mabizela.

Michael Willemse having a conversation with Rhodes University vice-chancellor Dr Sizwe Mabizela. (Supplied by Rhodes University)

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Fifty years after passing matric, Michael Willemse has realised his dream of studying at an institution of higher learning, and Rhodes University was his first choice.

The 67-year-old South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) grant recipient is studying anthropology and politics and is awaiting funding approval from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

Willemse is from Pietermaritzburg and grew up in Cape Town, where he passed Grade 12 at Bellville High School in 1970.

He had a dream of being an architect but due to his family circumstances, he could not study further and opted for job hunting instead. He worked in the aviation industry for the bulk of his life, and at retirement decided to further his studies.

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He was inspired to apply by his friend who was admitted to Rhodes University in 2019.

"After having a conversation with my friend, I asked myself: 'Why can't I study?' I am not dead yet and I cannot look for a job at my age.

'We learn every day'

"I feel that we learn every day and we have to impart that knowledge to the younger generation. I have all the experience, but I have no formal higher education in my name and no one can take away the knowledge I am going to get from Rhodes University," he said.

Willemse received a special welcome from vice-chancellor Dr Sizwe Mabizela.

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Mabizela said: "I warmly welcome Mr Willemse and thank him for coming to Rhodes University. He brings vast experience with him and I am sure young people will benefit immensely from the depth of his knowledge and understanding of things. We are absolutely delighted to have him as a senior student among the first years and we wish him everything of the best."

Willemse said he felt very honoured to have been personally welcomed by the vice-chancellor and was hoping that he will not disappoint.

He encouraged young people not to let their circumstances deter them from realising their dreams as there are opportunities of funding available.

 - Compiled by Riaan Grobler

Read more on:    rhodes university  |  port elizabeth  |  feel good  |  education
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