Every First Year Student Needs Someone Like Lerato Bereng

2015-08-21 11:45

The demonstration of gratitude to people who have directly shaped my life is the source of my energy. It is for this reason that at this moment I want to dedicate this blog to someone who gave me warmth when I first arrived at my beloved University of the Free State as a first year student in 2010. Here is the bitter reality: many first generation students struggle- both socially and academically- because the social environment at universities is often intimidating and creates bubbles of anxiety—perhaps one of the reasons why only about thirty per cent (30%) of black students finish their degrees within the stipulated time.

A messiah waiting

Like many first generation students, when I set my foot at Kovsies, I did not know anyone except myself. I woke up early from the place I had asked for a night’s sleep to apply for late registration. And as you can expect, everyone minded their own business; understandably so, given the state of affairs at that time of the year, January. After completing every form necessary with the hope of being accepted, I wandered around the campus to look for a place where I could buy airtime. Guess what: I wanted to buy something which I did not know how to load onto my mobile phone! It is then and there that this God-sent young man who beamed with an enviable confidence and angel-like smile offered to help me. As though he sensed I was not only anxious but unfamiliar with the place, he calmed me down and assured me that things were going to be okay.

Emotional stability

As if his hospitality was not enough, he went one step extra by saying if I wanted anyone to talk to I know where to find him. That moment, ladies and gentlemen, saved me from the vultures of the university environment. I am indebted to this person because he offered me a sense of security that I was looking for. It is very easy to be exploited at university or any foreign environment when no one is there to offer the necessary emotional support. In abuti Lerato I found a brother to whom I can share some of the personal male issues I would not share with my sisters. I will never forget the day I came looking for words of encouragement when my academic and human projects were sliding down. Instead of uttering any words he gave me a book from which I learned the importance of keeping a journal, ‘The One Minute Entrepreneur’ by Kenneth Blanchard. That book taught me that written words have a tremendous power of turning into a reality. It was through that book that I was able to imagine my life in a more encouraging than discouraging makeup. It was because of him that I was exposed to one of the finest books I have ever read in my life so far.

'I am because you are and you are because I am'

I strive to help as many first generation students with mentorship as possible because I was helped when I was most vulnerable. It is people like abuti Lerato who demonstrate that even the Maya Angelous of the world were helped by other people to be the people they became. I thank you bro Lovers because it is people like you who have helped me settle at Kovises. You offered me a shoulder to cry on. You have shown confidence in my abilities even when I doubted myself. You affirmed me. I never even for a second doubted your belief in me. You attest to the fact that no one can make it out here alone. Every conversation that I have with you turns me into a better individual and for that, I am humbled. Ke a leboha mme ke a dumela hore Modimo o tlo o hlohonolofatsa ho feta ka moo a o hlohonolofaditseng ka teng.

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