40-year-old Sthembile Mngwengwe from South Africa lived a simple life. Sthembile had wanted to go to college after graduating from high school in 1998 but unfortunately, her parents could not afford higher education for her at the time.
In 2018, she had been working at the University of KwaZulu-Natal for 10 years as a cleaner when she suddenly got a brilliant opportunity. She was allowed to study at the university for free but it had been 20 years since she had sat in an educational setting and getting back into it, she admitted had been hard.
“Balancing work and studies gave me a lot of stress,” she said. “But if you work hard and pray to God, He will help you to achieve what you want.”
She shared that one of the things that pushed her toward earning her undergraduate degree was cleaning professors’ offices. She added, “I was motivated by being on campus too, seeing students walking up and down going to their lecture theatres to attend classes made me wish to be them.”
She also shared how encouraging her daughter and colleagues had been and how their support had been essential for her to complete her degree.
“No matter how old you are you can still fulfill your dreams,” she reiterated. “Age is just a number — look at me completing my first degree at the age of 40. It’s a blessing and I’m so proud of myself.”
She worked at the same college for 14 years and became a student who ended up graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science.