Studying for a degree is never easy, especially not with a year-old baby in the house. But Molefe Donald Tsoana is showing how he's done it, thanks to a little help from his son, Sentle Tsoana.
On 12 June, two days after submitting his final coursework assignment, Molefe wrote a post on LinkedIn about his little MBA study partner who is now two-years-old.
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“I usually write appreciation posts about my colleagues to praise them or just thank them,” says the dad. “So the intention of this post was to just thank him for what he’s done.”
Molefe holds a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, a master's in structural engineering and concrete materials from the University of Cape Town and he's completing his master's in business administration and management at Wits Business School – so it’s safe to say that this part-time lecturer knows a thing or two about what's needed in a good study partner.
Molefe explains that studying could become lonely and stressful at times, but his son's presence and bubbly personality were the stress relievers he needed.
He recalls how, when group work and virtual meetings were dragging on, his son would fall asleep on his chest. In those moments Molefe says the warmth and the joy that came from holding him were unmatched.
Sentle jotting his own "notes" during his father’s study sessions was another reason why Molefe felt like they were in it together.
“Little man is a writer," the dad says affectionately. “He writes on everything and anything.”
Though he’d sometimes get distracted in class with his son's calls to him to applaud his efforts for completing a puzzle, Molefe remains adamant that the positives of having his son around outweighed the negatives.
Molefe wasn’t always so sure that he could juggle a full-time job, weekend studying and being a father and a husband.
Growing up in rural Lesotho, as the oldest of three boys, Molefe learnt quickly about hard work.
“I grew up doing chores. I always joke that my first job was polishing mine and my brothers' shoes before being ‘promoted’ to washing our clothes."
After deciding to do the MBA he still had some doubts. He worried that his son, who was only one year old at the time, wouldn’t be able to understand that daddy couldn't play as often.
His wife, Masentle, who's a doctor, encouraged him to pursue the degree and assured him of their support.
“My wife and I are partners in this. She deserves a whole appreciation post of her own for the way that she supports me.”
The first year of his MBA was hard as his only free time, at the weekend, was devoted to his studies. Worried that studying was creating a distance between him and Sentle, Molefe decided to bring him with to his virtual study meetings.
After all the study sessions together, Molefe was amazed at the reaction to his post praising his son, with many saying that he'd inspired them to study despite having children.
So needless to say, he's elated that he and Sentle could help send a message to people who needed to hear it.
“I love that boy,” he says proudly.
"You see that MBA qualification on the wall?" he intends on telling Sentle one day, "We did it together."
ADDITIONAL SOURCE: LINKEDIN