MY STORY | How I obtained my master's degree at the age of 75

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Notozi Jennifer Mgobozi on her graduation day. (PHOTO: Supplied)
Notozi Jennifer Mgobozi on her graduation day. (PHOTO: Supplied)

It was a proud moment when Notozi Jennifer Mgobozi recently graduated with a master's degree in education from Walter Sisulu University in the Eastern Cape. 

The 75-year-old grandmother from Langa in Cape Town tells YOU her story. 

I got excited when I realised I had finally obtained my master’s degree in education. My family are very excited for me too. I love developing teachers and children and this degree means a lot. 

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My late former brother-in-law, Philip Saluva, who worked as a school principal, encouraged me to become a teacher. Studying at Tshiya College of Education in the Free State in the 1960s, my love of teaching grew.

I got married, had my first children and started working for NGOs that focused on education. I loved teaching, especially language subjects. I can speak isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho and Afrikaans. 

notozi jennifer mgobozi, graduate, wsu, masters de
Notozi started her journey in education in the 1960s. (PHOTO: Supplied)

While working at the National Education Collaboration Trust in the Eastern Cape in 2016, I decided to pursue my master’s degree in education at Walter Sisulu University.

I worked with ladies in Mthatha who had their families with them. After work they would go home to their families while I was lonely [by this stage she was divorced]. 

I thought why should feel lonely when I can focus on getting an education. I thought here is a university next to me and it is within a walking distance so why don’t I go and register?

When I first told my family that I wanted to study they asked me when I was going to stop wanting to learn. At first they weren't too sure, but they didn't discourage me.

In 2018 I started working on my dissertation. The first challenge was working on it while also juggling my job. From 8 am to 4:30 pm I would be at work, however, my hours were flexible. I would arrange with my academic supervisor, Dr Ntshanga Nqabeni, that we meet in the afternoons as I had work in the mornings.

I also had a physical challenge: climbing the stairs to get to my supervisor. But otherwise, I was okay. I had a great supervisor. We would share ideas and get into debates. She was very patient.

Notozi with her academic supervisor, Dr Ntshanga N
With her academic supervisor, Dr Ntshanga Nqabeni. (PHOTO: Supplied)

It wasn't all that taxing to do a master’s degree at my age. My extensive experience in education, having worked with schools in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, made it easier.

Over the years I have offered support to teachers and pupils, delivered and developed material for schools and promoted reading. 

For my dissertation I had the basis of what I wanted to do, and I had already done my research when the president announced the hard lockdown. 

My graduation kept being pushed back due to Covid-19, but the day finally came, and it was even better because I got to have a physical graduation.

My friend Mandisa January was there to support me. 

READ MORE | Eastern Cape student with cerebral palsy defies the odds to graduate with 14 

My family were also very proud. They feel the pressure as they have not studied further but we understand that we are all different and have different desires. 

God is good and he never ceases to amaze me. It is through him that I acquired my master’s degree. 

notozi jennifer mgobozi, graduate, wsu, masters de
She would like to do a PhD next. (PHOTO: Supplied)

I allowed myself to be taught and showed humility. I told myself no matter what I would continue with my studies because this was my aspiration. 

I’m looking to do my PhD next but this time it has to be in Cape Town because this is where I live.  

Education is so important. If you want to study then you need to set yourself obtainable goals. Once you’ve done that you will work very hard because you will want to achieve those goals.

You’ve got to be disciplined.

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