“I have learnt that a person is not successful because everything in their life is right, but they are successful because their attitude towards everything is right.”
This was the mantra that got Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University graduate Mando Kapeso through many an obstacle on his way to obtaining a masters degree in Computing Science.
When Kapeso registered for his master’s degree, he only had one month’s rent and hoped that he would be awarded a bursary by software development company SYSPRO to cover his tuition.
In order to support himself, he worked three jobs. He lectured part-time, interned at the School of Engineering’s Uyilo project as a software developer and offered database support services to the NMMU Govan Mbeki Maths Development Unit (GMMDU).
“Handling three jobs and conducting research simultaneously was not easy and it took its toll on my social and spiritual life. However, I needed to do this, to not only support myself but to also assist my father financially,” he said.
In the latter part of 2016 as Kapeso prepared to complete his research, the effect of the Fees Must Fall protests and news of his ailing father in Zambia had him doubting whether he would ever finish his research, let alone graduate.
“My father had been diagnosed with stage three cancer. He avoided telling me because he was afraid the news would disturb me academically. I was not motivated to continue and I struggled emotionally,” he said.
“I travelled home to Zambia, but seeing the man who was a giant in my life – my hero – so weak, shattered me. I felt like giving up my studies to instead be home with my father.”
Kapeso’s father encouraged him to return to varsity to complete his studies.
“I struggled to work and my supervisor, Dr Brenda Scholtz, noticed. During this period she went over and above her role as my supervisor, giving me spiritual and emotional encouragement, even though I deliberately had not told her about the situation at home.”
On 15 December, Kapeso successfully submitted his dissertation. Sadly, on the morning after his submission, his father died.
“Kapeso’s strong work ethic and determination to persevere and achieve even when faced with extreme challenges was an inspiration to me and many others. He always had a smile on his face and would regularly and willingly offer to assist others in the department. It has been an absolute pleasure, honour and privilege to supervise him for both his honours and master’s degrees,” Dr Scholtz said.
On Saturday, 8 April, Kapeso received his master’s degree cum laude. He believes that this achievement would not have been possible without the support of his father, supervisor and the Computing Sciences Department.
“Trials and tribulations may last for a day, a week, months or even years but they will subside, however if one quits they will last forever,” he said.
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