Started from the bottom is becoming the new South African anthem, and this proves it once again.
A former Pick n Pay packer graduated and secured himself a law degree from the University of Stellenbosch recently.
Mbulelo Mango (25), who rose to new heights at one of SA’s top universities, grew up in Diepkloof, Soweto.
He matriculated at Namedi High School where he was a top achiever. “I was one of the top five students at school and top students in the area,” Mbulelo told YOU.
“I applied for university but back then I didn’t apply for law. The universities accepted me but the problem was funding.”
Mbulelo faced a year of no prospects and began working at his local branch of Pick n Pay, where he would regularly see students from the University of the Witwatersrand.
“Every day I had to pack stuff for those students. I only worked there for a couple of months but I just couldn’t, it wasn’t good for my mental health to see all these people reaching for their dreams,” he said.
When Mbulelo quit, he found work at a clothing store where he says he was encouraged to work towards his dream of studying further.
“It was better because my manager really understood me and what I wanted to achieve,” he says.
“She supported me and understood the potential I had.”
He applied to many universities but was accepted at Stellenbosch University, which was when everything fell into place.
”At that time I didn’t even know there was an institution called Stellenbosch,” Mbulelo says.
“Whichever university accepts me and offers me funding, that’s where I would go,” he explains his application process.
“They (University of Stellenbosch) accepted me and when I showed my father, the first concern was funding.
“Weeks later I received a letter from the NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme) that I received financial aid.”
He was admitted to do a general Bachelor of Arts degree but realised during orientation that law was where he wanted to be.
Mbulelo went to see the registrar and was placed on a waiting list. He visited the registrar’s daily for an update and his persistence finally paid off.
“I was very excited. I didn’t choose law, law chose me and I pushed to particularly do that.”
He’s since been offered a clerkship to do his articles at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, one of SA’s top four legal firms, for the next two years.
The prospect of getting a salary is warmly welcomed, Mbulelo says, but it’s much more than that.
“For me, the attitude I’m going with is one of learning and to acquire as much knowledge as possible.”