Howard College Student Representative Council (HSRC) members from the University of KwaZulu-Natal were thrilled to graduate with their undergraduate degrees recently.
Ms Thandeka Mkhwane (Community Development Officer) and Ms Nonkululeko Mhlongo (Deputy President) received their Bachelor of Social Sciences degrees at the UKZN Spring Graduation Ceremonies.
Mkhwane initially wanted to become a teacher. However, due to her high school background, she ended up enrolling for the College of Humanities’ Bachelor of Social Science Access/Extended programme. ‘My plan was to transfer to Edgewood campus the following year, but during the course of studying Social Sciences, I developed a passion for Administration. It was influenced by a volunteering role during UKZN’s applications and registrations period. This is why I chose Industrial Psychology (equivalent to Human Resources Management) as one of my majors,’ said Mkhwane.
Mkhwane comes from a supportive family that helped raise her son while she pursued her studies. For the first two years, she did not have any financial aid and relied on assistance from friends and her grandmother who was always there for her since her parents died.
‘It’s difficult to balance academic life, family responsibilities and student activism. Through perseverance and commitment, I always manoeuvred my study timetable to accommodate other responsibilities. I am inspired by myself because I am the first graduate amongst my siblings. I hope this will encourage other undergraduate students to be active in academia and participate in volunteering in order to gain work experience,’ she said.
Mkhwane plans to further her studies and to get a job to support her family.
Fellow SRC member Mhlongo was introduced to social sciences in her high school geography class in which she studied the various social challenges that society face on a day to day basis. This inspired and motivated her to pursue a bachelor of social sciences.
Mhlongo left home to study with her parents’ blessings and the last R50 her mother had. She juggled both academia and motherhood, often finding it difficult but through hard work and dedication, she prevailed. Mhlongo is now the pride of her family, being the first to graduate with her degree.
She thanked her family and friends for their support. Offering advice to other students, Mhlongo said, ‘Each and every study has their own struggle. Don’t let your problems define you. Stay focussed through tests and trials.’