Writing this piece was a difficult task because I had to shrink a book-length account to a concise paragraph (or 3)! So, I’ve put together a summary of a summary, accounting for some core events and highlighting some pillars of strength… writes Faith Moyo.
The Highs amidst the Lows
I left school with excellent matric results, 7 distinctions! Unfortunately, my citizenship (a Zimbabwean economic refugee) denied me access to funding opportunities like bursaries and scholarships to pursue my University education.
My dad, who was then a general worker, on a R3 000 monthly salary, with a wife plus six school-going children to take care of, begged his employer for R10 000 to get me registered at the then Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
Almost at the verge of the cut-off of the late registration deadline, my dad’s employer agreed to grant him a loan for the requested amount. He’d then pay it off by getting R250 deducted monthly from his salary.
I managed to register, almost 2 months late, one of the best days of my life ?! I had a student card, I could access the labs and log in on the computers for my programming practicals, I could get books from the library, I could access the Student Portal, how amazing it was!
I was finally on the journey to acquiring a BCom Rationum (Computer Science & Information Systems) degree.
The tuition debt had to be cleared annually before I could register because I wouldn’t be allowed to register with outstanding debt from the previous academic year. I also needed some prescribed textbooks, some cost about R700! I also needed to commute to campus from home for lectures daily. Some tests were written in the evenings (sometimes 18:00 and later) and I had to make accommodation arrangements for those days.
Through it all, I graduated in record-time in April 2016, I had the choice to either pursue the BCom Honours in Accounting or the BCom Honours in Computer Sciences & Information Systems as I had qualified for both. My first degree remains the pinnacle of my tertiary education because had I not managed to register, let alone complete the qualification, I wouldn’t be where I am today – holding a Master’s degree in Computer Sciences & Information Systems awarded Cum Laude!
My Pillars of Strength
Even though my family could not afford to send me to school financially, they are my continuous and genuine source of support. I was exempted from doing household chores during the week because I had to wake up at 04:30 daily to catch the 05:20 bus to campus and I only got home after 20:00 because I took the 18:00 bus (last bus) from campus.
Friends, now turned family made my University days brighter. We pushed each other to achieve the best marks, we’d attend classes and study together. Some used their bursary funds to buy me textbooks, lunch on campus and gave me bus fare. One of them gave some of their change from their bursary to my student account to help reduce the debt. A Zimbabwean lady, I never knew before, turned aunt, let me into her home to accommodate me on the nights I stayed late on campus to write tests.
My Professor, Prof Greyling, who was at the time of my first year the H.O.D, whose existence has changed my life for the better in so many ways I cannot begin to comprehend. It was on his office door that I knocked, crying for help with the funding of my studies.
It was his courtesy that led me to my first generous sponsor, Mr Marlon Parker, who funded my first-year studies after seeing Prof’s Facebook post.
Prof gave me the invaluable opportunity to tutor first-year Programming for five years. It is through Prof that I’ve built some life-changing networks.
My dearest supervisor and mentor, Prof Brenda Scholtz who I became very close to as she mentored me through my postgraduate qualifications. I see a second mom in her. Her “are you okay?” SMSes revived me from points of despondence during my Master’s.
From her I continue to learn the art of good work ethic, the importance of prayer and having genuine love for the ones around you
My co-supervisor, Dr ‘Mo’ Alhassan sat on long calls with me sometimes just to encourage me to keep going! Dr ‘Mo’ gave invaluable guidance in my DSR research and I could relate to him as I also identified myself as a pragmatic researcher that he was!
My colleagues offered support in various ways; including shift swops just to see me complete my studies.
Myself – my life canvas on which I am painting daily, keeps me moving. I want to be content with how I’ve lived when my time in this realm is up.
God’s Grace brought me this far and it is by God’s Grace that I’ll carry on. God placed different people in my life, mine in theirs, for a special reason. God gave me strength to cope with the lows and God gave me the privilege and good-health to enjoy the highs. God chose me to be an example of what perseverance looks like.
God gave me my life, which I can only pray to live humbly and to be an example that gives someone known or unknown to me the reason to carry on fighting for what they want or what they believe in. For the moments that I can’t comprehend how I managed to get through the hardships, I maintain that it is God’ Grace!
I believe that I’m living in this realm to serve a purpose that is bigger than myself and one of the conditions of serving that purpose is to weather the hard times with strong faith that it gets dark before dawn.
Regardless of one’s beliefs, I’m a firm believer that it is necessary for us to tap into that space that’s divine and beyond any logic or human understanding for a sense of being and purpose. It is in that space that strength continues to overflow, and a spirit of gratitude is cultivated.
I’m humbled and truly grateful for having made it this far. It has been a combination of commitment, effort, hard-work, knowing what I want and most importantly God’s Grace!
What’s next ?…?! To live. To continue working on ‘the Self’ as I continue to grow as an individual, develop my career, build healthy relationships with fellow human beings and to take on more ‘life projects’ as I go!
PS: the book has not been started but it will be… soon ?! The journey continues…