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The power to keep going conquers all obstacles

Lotharice Nkomo

Despite challenges she encountered along the way, Lotharice Nkomo graduated with 21 distinctions in her Bachelor of Accounting Sciences in Financial Accounting during Unisa’s autumn graduations. A married mother of two from Kokolombeni in the Nkosikazi Nyathi Distrcit, Zimbabwe, Nkomo went to Tshazi Primary School where she discovered her love for mathematics. Since she knew she liked working with numbers, she decided early in her life that she wanted to become a chartered accountant.

However, her life as it would unfold had many obstacles that stood in the way of her realising her dream. Her first challenge was that she did not pass all her subjects in high school; however, she did well in mathematics. Following her failure, her parents could unfortunately no longer afford to send her to school.

Not one to give up easily, Nkomo worked as a domestic worker while self-teaching and studying to repeat the subjects she had failed. After completing her O levels (the equivalent of a South African Matric), she started to pursue her dream of becoming a chartered accountant. But with limited information, she first tried various accounting short courses, assuming these would lead her to her dream.

When Nkomo eventually learned about Unisa, she still did not qualify for a degree. "I applied at Unisa in 2014 for the 2015 academic year for a Higher Certificate in Accounting Sciences and a Higher Certificate in Economic and Management Sciences, which I passed with six distinctions (cum laude)," explained a joyful Nkomo.

Excited to finally start her Bachelor of Accounting Sciences in Financial Accounting in 2016, Nkomo experienced some financial challenges. "Getting funding for my studies was a huge challenge. Even when I met the requirements, my nationality automatically excluded me from any funding. I remember I got an e-mail from Unisa merit bursary during my second year of study; I was so excited that I was going to get the funding I so needed, but to my disappointment when I enquired I was told that my application was not processed," recalled Nkomo.

Unisa is not only the largest university in Africa, but it produces the highest number of graduates in the country. For the 2019 autumn graduations, the number of qualifications is more than 30 000, which makes the institution an epicentre of knowledge production.

Provisionally included in this figure are 109 doctorates, 190 master’s degrees and 1 278 honours degrees. Graduates with both three and four-year bachelor degrees number 9 566, while there are 16 389 undergraduate diplomas and certificates. Of the colleges, the College of Education has produced the most qualifications at 16 302, while the Gauteng Region heads the overall list with 7 023 degrees.

In total, 30 690* students will receive qualifications during Unisa’s current graduations that began on 4 March and will finish on 28 June 2019.

Graduation ceremonies will be held in Pretoria, Mbombela, Polokwane, Cape Town, Durban, East London and Bloemfontein.

*These statistics are still provisional.

So, what kept Nkomo going despite obstacles along the way?

"I have always had a dream of being a chartered accountant, so when l got an opportunity 15 years later, l had to grab it with both hands and run with it," Nkomo asserted. And run with it she did, 15 years later and many obstacles along the way, Nkomo graduated with her Bachelor of Accounting Sciences in Financial Accounting in a three-year record time with 21 distinctions.

Speaking of her achievement, College of Accounting Sciences Executive Dean, Prof Lungile Ntsalaze, said: "We are very proud of Nkomo’s achievements—her journey is very special; a score of 21 distinctions deserves a huge celebration. We wish her all the best with her current studies and we will definitely be looking out for her name in the top achievers list of the SAICA exams."

A hard worker

Besides her academic demands and stellar performance, Nkomo was Chairperson of the Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants in SA (ABASA) Unisa Tshwane Student Chapter. This is a platform she has used to benefit many Unisa students on opportunities she could not access as a foreign national.

Nkomo teaches us that no obstacle is big enough to stand in the way of our dreams. From her story we take away that often the moments we are most proud of are the ones where we overcame adversity to accomplish something worthwhile - be inspired!

* By Tshimangadzo Mphaphuli, Senior Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2019-03-29 00:00:00.0