Sleeping on the floor, losing funding – what it took for Aviwe to become a mathematical scientist

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Aviwe Sofoyiya obtained a National Diploma in Mathemetical Science at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
Aviwe Sofoyiya obtained a National Diploma in Mathemetical Science at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

When the going got tough, she always remembered her mom's words, "Always finish what you started." And Aviwe Sofiyiya has done just that.

She was recently awarded her national diploma in mathematical science at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), and her eyes fill up with tears when recalls the past three years which, she tells Drum, were the most difficult in her life.

In 2018, the 25-year-old decided to quit her job and go back to school, without telling her family. 

She had found herself following the career path of marine engineering after she received her first qualification at the Durban University of Technology (DUT). But even while she was doing her maritime studies there, she knew her heart wasn't in it.

Aviwe's high school dream was to study medicine but, due to how costly the qualification is, she opted to take up the offer to do marine engineering at DUT. 

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During her studies, there were times when she felt like quitting but her mom's words would always ring in her mind. After a short while of working in that maritime field, she finally decided she could no longer ignore the feeling that she wanted to follow a different career path, so she moved to Cape Town and enrolled in mathematical science at CPUT.

She had no friends or family there and her loved ones had no idea of the suffering she was going through.  

“I slept on the floor for almost a week," Aviwe recalls. "I would wake up and bathe in the common bathrooms and eat bread all week as I could not afford to spend on take-aways. When I finally had a residence, I didn’t even have bedding or pillows.” But she was determined not to let her current situation dictate her journey. 

She soldiered on and focused on her studies, taking it one day at a time.

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When she reached her final year, she thought things would be easier. But they were not. Aviwe was told she had reached the end of her funding although she had not completed her studies. Further adding to her woes was discovering she had a serious illness.

She was also diagnosed with meningitis. 

"I had to finish my assignment in a hospital bed while battling a throbbing headache. My whole three years of this qualification were hard. I don’t know how I finished it in record time, but I made it.”

Aviwe shares as she went through all these things she also learnt that she has a spiritual calling and says her parents were her pillar of strength. 

“It has not been easy on them, knowing that I have a calling too. And being away from home was not easy on my family. But now that I have graduated, they are still lost for words, and have been crying tears of joy with me," says Aviwe. 

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