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Leading by example on the academic front

Contrary to the popular perception that SRC members are the least advanced when it comes to academic excellence, the Unisa Student Representative Council is writing a new chapter and is determined to raise the academic flag higher. In another milestone which signals the SRC’s commitment to academic excellence, Zandile Sodladla, the NSRC President, graduated with Bachelor of Social Work degree.

Sodladla, who hails from the Eastern Cape, was born in East London. She said being the sixth child in a big family and being raised by a single parent was a source of strength to her and motivated her to have passion for education.

“I cannot describe the feeling I have; being the second graduate at home is a big achievement not only for myself but for the family as a whole. My mother has been sick ever since my father passed away, so with my graduation, she felt like God has answered her prayers,” she said.

She lamented that being a student activist while studying is an onerous task, which required a great sense of determination and commitment. She said student leaders must lead by example and this often involved a well-planned study time-table whilst attending to the needs of students who regularly ask for help from the SRC.

As a child, Sodladla wanted to be a medical doctor; however because of the kinds of subjects she did for Matric, she was told that her dream would not be realised and this compelled to abandon her desired career path. However, the situation changed when a friend suggested that they should apply to other universities.

Luckily for Sodladla, Unisa accepted her application, which saw her enrol for a Bachelor of Social Work. “I wanted to be a doctor but because of the subjects I did at high school that was not achievable. I stopped longing for studying in a university until one dearest friend said to me let’s just apply to all universities in Eastern Cape.  Two universities responded, including Unisa.  I still remember vividly that I never thought I could be a Unisa student. I took the acceptance letter and went straight to Unisa regional centre to sort my registration,” she explained.

She added that her journey was not a smooth one because during her registration she was wrongly advised on the modules she chose. She said there were numerous challenges posing as obstacles during her studies. “The first challenge I had was the person who assisted me to choose the modules which resulted chaotic start and I had to deal with that through my studies. Another issue was my job. I was working at a restaurant as a waitress to generate income in order to cover the cost of my studies,” she said.

Asked what advice she wants to share with Unisa students, Sodladla unequivocally said students must prioritise their studies and they will reap the fruits.

*By Percy Mthombeni