Writer: Mapaseka Senamela
I am a 23 year old lady, born in Vosloorus, the east of Johannesburg, started my early years of school at Dikgalaopeng, Limpopo. Growing up I lived with my grandmother before returning back to Vosloorus to stay with my Mother to continue with school. I can safely say that I’ve had or have my fair share of both the city and village life. I know what it is like to use a homemade bathroom with no running water and running home during school break just to have something to eat, consecutively I also know what it is like to take a bath in an en-suited with running hot water and having a freshly packed sandwich that your mother made for you. I was raised by a single parent; this basically means working double as hard to ensure that your mother doesn’t necessarily have to feel the pressure of being a mother and a father at the same time. And no! it’s ok, don’t feel sorry for me, my mother had my grandparents for support and assistance in terms of raising me and my grandfather and uncle were and are always there, so trust me I do not have ‘daddy issues’, I went to both public primary and high school, but that did not stop me from dreaming and wanting to be successful, I’ve always been an average learner that excelled in 2 of 3 subjects which was good enough as I would pass and progress into the next grade.
Growing up in the township, I wanted to be an actress, presenter or just be on TV, but in the process of growing up I discovered that I am too much of an introvert to be in front of the camera. In my tenth grade, we had the option of choosing commercial or science subjects, that’s when my love for accounting started and right there and then I decided and dreamt of being a Charted Accountant (CA) and making a lot of money. But little did I know that a year and half later in my Matric year I will find myself in a Life Orientation class reading a book and that’s where I came across the term ‘public relations’. I asked my teacher to elaborate further, which she did, every career exhibition I went to, I wanted to know everything about PR, the cost, the duration, remuneration and basically everything.
In 2009 which was my Matric year, I took my June result, asked my mother for money for the application fee without even knowing who was going to pay for my varsity fees, I applied at the Tshwane University of Technology because of their reasonable fees and because I wanted to get away from home. I craved for freedom and independence without thinking of the consequences of those two, most of the times I found myself lonely yet free and dependent because I was a student and I found myself broke most of the times. Don’t get me wrong varsity was loads of fun, there were friends, alcohol, boys and more than anything the freedom to do anything I wanted to do at anytime.
After experiencing this ‘freedom’ life, I would like to say to those of you who are going to varsity next year or in the near future, always, I mean always remember the main reason why you applied for that qualification in the first place irrespective of how hard things get.
Here are a few tips to survive university that personally worked for me:
- Be informed and aware of what is happening around you, especially if you going to stay at the school residence.
- Balance your lifestyle, go to class, study, go to church, go out with friends, and do whatever it takes to ensure that you are not always cooked up in the library.
- Be involved – there are politics, sports, leadership programmes, debate teams and much more.
- Get a mentor, preferably someone older or a third year student.
And most importantly always remember the main reason why you applied for that application in the first place, basically keeping your eyes on the prize.
I am inspired by the smallest things in life, especially my mother who has never had a permanent job, yet she has ensured that I do not go to bed hungry; she uses her skills i.e. cooking and selling to ensure that we have everything we need, I am also encouraged by young individuals that are not sitting at the corner doing nothing, or waiting on the government to spoon feed them but rather studying towards that degree, opening up that small business, working towards that managerial position.
Today I hold a B-tech in Public Relations Management qualification, I started off my career in 2012 by volunteering as an intern at one of the departments at the institution, which a lot of undergraduates or graduates are not willing to do, I did this for 9 months without getting paid but I was looking at the bigger picture which was gaining experience and graduating in record time. For those of you who don’t know, with certain courses it is compulsory for one to get an internship in their final year in order for them to graduate, and unfortunately or fortunately PR is one of those courses. A thousand application emails later, a thousand regret emails later and 7 companies later I now work as a regional coordinator for a marketing and branding company and I intend on doing my second B-tech next in Business Administration, and no ‘mama’ I haven’t made it as yet, however I believe in my capabilities as a young and smart individual. I have figured out what I want in life and I am certainly walking and working towards achieving it, so believe me when I say ‘It Is Possible’ young black child.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela
To all of you out there still pursuing your goals and dreams, don’t give up! Life may seem to be painfully getting worse or going nowhere but the secret is to just keep going. That work you’re putting in towards your studies or career will eventually pay off. Even when things look really bleak, remember that you still have the option to pick yourself up and keep on going.
Facebook: Mapaseka Lephephane Senamela
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