The Oxbridge Academy Medal For Succeeding Against The Odds
The Oxbridge Academy Medal for Succeeding Against the Odds is an award for students who have succeeded in their studies despite any physical, educational, social, or financial obstacles that they have faced.
The Medal is awarded to three students each year, and the aim of this award is not only to recognise students for their excellent academic achievements despite their difficult circumstances, but also to motivate, inspire, and encourage other students facing similar struggles. Through this award, we also hope to make it possible for some of our students to further their studies in situations where they may not otherwise have been able to do so.
2022 WINNERSCongratulations to the 2022 winners of the Succeeding Against the Odds Award. What a wonderful inspiration you are! Thanks for all your hard work and dedication! Here are the 2022 winners’ stories!
RENEILOE SANDRAH SEABI – FOUND HOPE IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITYHaving grown up in poverty, Oxbridge Academy student Reneiloe struggled with the loss of her father at an early age. Additionally, she had to overcome many challenges in her personal life while battling her studies and the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only did she lose two of her closest family members to covid in 2021, she also had to deal with losing her job, and deal with her brother going to jail. This meant that there was no breadwinner in the family, which ultimately triggered a downward spiral of depression in her family.Although Reneiloe felt disheartened and despondent towards her studies, she had one ray of hope who managed to pick her up off the ground and encouraged her to continue with her studies. While facing many challenges, she is determined to prove to herself and her family that she is a fighter, and she will succeed no matter what. This is exactly what she is doing and is on the road to completing her skills certificate with us.
MZWANDILE ALAM – GROWING THROUGH UNTIRING PERSEVERANCEMzwandile started out as a cleaner and was soon promoted to team leader at the University of Free State. His first step, following his promotion, was to enrol at Oxbridge Academy where he obtained a skills certificate in occupational health and safety. In spite of the fact that his studies accounted for 80% of his income at the time, he had no regrets since he was on his way to achieving his goals. As of now, he has completed his second certificate in Health and Safety for Management – Advanced and is in the process of completing his occupational certificate in Occupational Health and Safety Practitioner.
SHERMONAY BOLTNEY – RISING THROUGH HARDSHIPSShermonay is a single mother and has been a student at Oxbridge Academy since 2016. As a child, she was faced with many struggles. Before becoming a student at Oxbridge Academy, her life was wrought with hardships, including being a victim of abuse, unemployment and suffering the loss of her sister in previous years. Besides working full-time at the City of Cape Town as a senior clerk, she was also enrolled as a student at UNISA. In addition to being financially responsible for her immediate family at the time, she also had to care for her late mother, who had Alzheimer’s and dementia.Between her full-time job, caring for her daughter and her studies, Shermonay had to calm her mother during her mother’s many episodes. One of the many incidents involved her waking up in the middle of the night to find her mother’s bed empty and the front door open. When she discovered her mother outside the house, she was attempting to open the gate in search of her late daughter. Her struggles eventually took their toll when she couldn’t keep up with the demands. She failed, dropped out of Unisa, resigned from her position at the City of Cape Town, and gave up being the sole source of income for her daughter. Just two weeks after she resigned, her mother passed away.Despite the death of her mother, Shermonay still had to overcome many obstacles, including dealing with the abuse of her uncle, being harassed by her drug addict brother and caring for her daughter. She enrolled for N4 in Legal Secretary which she was able to complete. She is currently completing her N5 in Legal Secretary.Shermonay has demonstrated great dedication and perseverance in the face of challenging circumstances and numerous obstacles. However, she managed to achieve great results in her studies and found a job despite all her hardships. Therefore, we are delighted to name her a recipient of the Oxbridge Academy Medal for Succeeding Against the Odds.
This year we received a record number of nominations for this prestigious award. It is with great pride that we introduce you to the following Oxbridge Academy star students!
VERONICA MOSOTHO – A DOMESTIC WORKER AND STAR STUDENT
Veronica Mosotho, from Bronkhorstspruit in Mpumalanga, was raised by unemployed parents. “My parents could not afford to pay for tertiary education after school, so I didn’t really have a choice but to become a domestic worker,” says Veronica.
Veronica works from 8AM to 4PM every day. When she gets home, she still has to put food on the table for her three children, and she somehow also manages to fit in time for her studies. She is currently studying an N4 Educare National Certificate with Oxbridge Academy.
“It is very difficult to study and do assignments after a long day of hard work, but I told myself that with hard work and dedication, nothing is impossible. I make sure I make time for studying and doing my assignments every day after work until late at night. Sometimes I even wake up at dawn if there is a lot of work to do,” says Veronica.
Veronica says that she is determined to change people’s perceptions of her. “Some people think that being a domestic worker means you are not capable or smart enough to study further. This is a wrong perception, everyone has a story to tell. I have proven that being a domestic worker does not mean the end of the world – one must not forget about their dreams.”
Between her work and caring for her family, Veronica has managed to achieve distinctions for her studies so far. “I am very proud of myself because through it all, I have been able to obtain distinctions. It has not been an easy journey as it is difficult to get leave to do practical work and write exams, but I have made it and am still going forward! PHAMBILI!”
JUSTINE HAINES – OVERCOMING EXTREME HARDSHIPS
When Justine was 16, her parents separated and her disabled mother and two sisters lost their family home. The family were forced to move into a one-room shack in the informal settlement of Ivory Park in Kimberley.
Still in high school, Justine had to work to help put food on the table for her family. “Working odd jobs to feed my family became my only priority but lead to me failing matric in 2012. I was devastated but applied to re-write my exams in 2013 and between working half day and studying on my own, I passed matric.”
Justine always dreamed to be a teacher, but this dream seemed out of reach for her. “For as long as I can remember, teaching has been a life-long dream of mine. A dream that I was convinced would never be realised due to my failing matric and our seemingly ever deteriorating socio-economic circumstances.”
In the years after matric, Justine was the only breadwinner in her household as she continued to work odd jobs. “We survived from day-to-day, so it goes without saying that a tertiary education was never an option for me or any one of my sisters. I thought to myself that studying beyond matric was impossible.”
Eventually, in 2017, Justine met a woman who had finished her ECD studies through Oxbridge Academy and was employed as a nursery school teacher in a wealthy suburb of Kimberley. Click here to continue reading.
MUSA MASONDO – IT ENTREPRENEUR AND SOCIAL GAME-CHANGER
Growing up in the small rural village of Wakkerstroom in Mpumalanga, 18-year-old Musa is a perfect example of someone who is chasing his dreams – and achieving them. “Wakkerstroom is an area where we live just to survive for another day as we believe big dreams are for the wealthy. It was in my vision to change that mentality as I live by the mottos ‘one man can change the world’ and ‘be the change you want to see’,” says Musa.
Musa saw that a friend in Pretoria had started a computer training centre, and he decided to join him and help out. “When his centre started generating money I decided to go open one in my hometown in Wakkerstroom. Having no capital nor equipment but just a laptop, I knew I had to get a business education,” Musa says.
Musa enrolled for a business management course with Oxbridge Academy.
“My first module was legal principles which came very handy. I was running up and down looking for funds, equipment, resources, sponsorships or partnerships, so I got aware of the legal implications I must always keep in mind.” After several months of trying, Musa eventually found a person who was running a small internet café and was qualified in IT. The two agreed to partner up.
“We decided to launch our small training centre for the local youth. Oxbridge Academy was there for me again as my module was then Marketing Management. With the knowledge I had acquired from my books we managed to get a numbers of students. Registration money was coming in, but I was then on my Financial Management module so it wasn’t a worry as Oxbridge was there again, from there I had to organise and manage everything at the centre and I learnt a lot from my Management Principles textbook.” Click here to continue reading.
MICHAELA SMITH – OVERCOMING MENTAL HEALTH ILLNESS TO REACH HER DREAMS
Oxbridge Academy student Michaela Smith has battled years of mental illness. Her depression and anxiety were so severe that she was unable to leave her house; she couldn’t sleep and she even tried to take her own life. But she has overcome it all.
She first started studying with Oxbridge Academy in 2014, a few months after finishing Matric. “I love being outdoors. I love travelling and seeing new places, so I chose to study tourism. I knew that I wanted to be a tour guide, or work on a cruise ship or plane,” says Michaela.
Her first year of studies went well, and she received her N4 National Certificate in Tourism without any trouble. But in 2015, the depression she had suffered from throughout her teens began to get worse. “Starting with N5, I had trouble adapting to life. I could barely could keep up and kept failing. A few months later in March 2016 I gave up and stopped studying. I lost 20 kilograms and weighed only 35 kilograms. I was suicidal and tried to take my life three times,” Michaela says.
In November of that year, her world came crashing down.
“I had severe anxiety. I couldn’t be alone because I would have panic attacks. I couldn’t drive and I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t leave the house for an entire year and ended up in numerous doctor’s offices. The doctors told me I shouldn’t study because it would just make things worse for me. My life had just been taken away from me by this illness.”
Michaela was hospitalised for two weeks at a mental health centre. Click here to continue reading.
Congratulations to our students who have proven that nothing will stand in their way of finding success. Herewith the stories of our 2018 winners!
SIMELOKUHLE MAPHOSA – OVERCOMING POVERTY
Simelokuhle was born into a family of 11 children in Gweru, Zimbabwe. Her family was poor and could only afford to send her to school until Grade 10.
“Our focus was always on meeting basic needs like food and shelter. I had obtained good marks in school, so I passed my Grade 10 with flying colours, but sadly I couldn’t study further due to lack of fees,” Simelokuhle says.
Simelokuhle got a job as a shopkeeper, but fell pregnant with a man who left her to raise her baby as a single mom.
“I managed my expenses through farming and selling vegetables, until the baby was two years old. I then moved to South Africa to work as a nanny, leaving my child with my parents in Zimbabwe,” she explains.
Simelokuhle always had a passion for working with children. She decided to pursue a career in childcare, achieving certificates in Basic Childcare, Cooking, First Aid, and Au Pairing. She is currently in her first year of Early Childhood Development studies at Oxbridge Academy.
“As a live-in nanny, it has been hard for me to balance my work and my studies, but I have completed all my assignments on time. I have enjoyed my course so far and am determined to finish my studies and fulfil my dream of working with children full-time.”
IVY NASSIA – A TRUE STAR STUDENT!
After finishing high school, hard-working Ivy Nassia took up any job she could find – from waitressing to car washing. She is currently a cleaner, working 11 hours a day, six days per week. During her various jobs, she discovered that health and safety procedures were lacking in many of the places where she worked.
“In my experience, all these jobs lacked information and knowledge with regards to health and safety procedures as well as employer/employee duties and rights,” Ivy says.
Although her last formal education was more than 12 years ago, Ivy enrolled for her Occupational Health and Safety for Management course with Oxbridge Academy. She has achieved remarkable results so far, getting 92%, 99% and 100% for the three assignments she has submitted so far.
“Even though at times my basic needs and responsibilities set my education back, my thirst for knowledge and passion for what is right will drive me further to achieve the highest level attainable in OHS,” says Ivy, who plans to enrol for further OHS studies after her course.
“Despite numerous challenges, I can still excel and pursue my lifelong dream. I will further my education, add value to the workplace and share all I will learn with the world. I will get a chance at fulfilling my goal and finally doing the work I would have chosen.”
KABINDE MALINDI – EMPOWERING HERSELF
Kabinde is working as a safety representative at City Power in Johannesburg, where she has the distinction of being the only female on her team. Her eyes were opened to the importance of safety in the workplace when one of her friends was electrocuted on the job.
“I always thought bad things happen to other people, until October 2017, when a very close colleague of mine got electrocuted and spent months in ICU. If we were doing maintenance and filling in the risk assessments, this incident could have been prevented,” says Kabinde.
Kabinde wanted to gain more knowledge of the industry so that she could play her role in preventing accidents. She chose to study an OHS course with Oxbridge Academy, and has also committed to constantly improving herself.
“After the course, I am able to play my role in eliminating accidents and incidents. I have now also enrolled for a degree with another college. Every six months, I will be enrolling with Oxbridge Academy, doing different courses to empower myself further.”
We are proud to share with you the stories of our Succeeding Against the Odds award winners for 2017. Congratulations to them all!
Innocentia is an OHS student at Oxbridge Academy, who recently ventured into a mining consulting company and needed to learn the relevant skills to ensure the health and safety of the employees. She says:
My company is still at baby crawling stage and not generating too much yet, but with the few rands that I make for profit I’m able to afford my OHS studies. The assignments and study materials are easy and accommodating and the service for queries and questions helps me to walk this journey very easily.
I was able to achieve my first assignment with an A symbol and I’m aiming to complete my overall certificate with distinction. I’m all about willingness to learn and the tutor tips are very helpful for me. Big up!
Starting up your own venture is a big challenge, and we are proud of Innocentia’s initiative in this regard. Studying while starting up a business shows great commitment and determination, and we are therefore proud to name Innocentia as a recipient of the Succeeding Against the Odds Award for November 2017.
Janae was a general worker when she started studying her beauty therapy course with Oxbridge Academy. She suffered from depression due to her work environment, and she says:
My parents are deceased and I’m doing this all on my own.
Despite her circumstances, Janae has achieved 92% in both of the assignments that she has submitted thus far, and we are eager to see what she will achieve in the remainder of her course. Janae’s results show that she is committed to working hard to change her current situation and to create a better future for herself. We are therefore pleased to name her as a recipient of the Succeeding Against the Odds Award for November 2017.
Azola’s dream is to become a marketing manager. Unfortunately, she grew up in difficult circumstances, and she could not study towards her dream. Her whole family, including her three siblings, was dependent on her mother’s salary of R5000 a month.
While Azola matriculated in 2008, she was only able to go study in 2010, due to her family’s financial constraints. And when she did go study, she had to settle for something that she describes as “a good course that will help me find work easily”, even though it was not what she really wanted to do. She studied education, and graduated in 2013. Despite her qualification, she could still not find a job. She says:
I didn’t get any job, I stayed home and … it was really sad to know that I put my dreams on hold just to satisfy other people.
Azola had almost given up on her dream when, in 2016, she finally secured a job as an educator. She then decided that it was time to go back to pursuing her childhood dream, and she started studying marketing via distance learning with Oxbridge Academy. She says:
I am now married, I have children, and I am a full-time educator and also an Oxbridge Academy marketing student. I am not done with my studies yet, but I will finish before December ends. I have lived for people but now I am striving for my dreams. I have succeeded against all odds, I will finish my course and by next year I believe that I will be a marketing consultant of a big company and in 5 years a well-known businesswoman owning my own marketing agency.
We are proud of Azola for not giving up on her dream, for persisting despite the obstacles she faced, and for approaching her studies with such a positive attitude. For this reason, we are happy to name her as a recipient of the Succeeding Against the Odds Award for 2017.
Mavhungu tells us that she succeeded against the odds despite being without a stable job and despite receiving no financial assistance from her family after Matric.
“I grew up in a normal family, with a bright future and support. Things started to change when I finished my Matric. My father refused to pay my school fees to further my studies as I was his stepdaughter.”
While she was researching the costs of studying at university, Mavhungu met a lady wearing an Oxbridge Academy T-shirt, and asked her about the college and how it works. She then started working as a domestic worker to raise funds for her studies at Oxbridge Academy. Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan:
“By the time my stepfather passed away, I was the only one left to help as I had my younger brothers and my mother’s health is unstable. It delayed me from studying, as I was only earning R600.”
Her situation worsened when she unexpectedly fell pregnant. However, she did not give up hope:
“I went home for labour and asked my mom to take care of my son, as I got a call that I must come work at a filling station. I was earning per week, so with the first payment I made sure I registered with Oxbridge… I’m happy that I’m studying and with my studies I will get a proper job and make a better future for my son and help my two brothers to study… Although I had all these challenges, all thanks to Oxbridge because I have hope for my life again and I can encourage others to never give up on their dreams despite the situation. And Oxbridge will always be my advice to anyone wishing to study.”
Mavhungu has shown courage and determination in overcoming a very difficult set of circumstances, and for this reason, we are proud to name her as a recipient of the Succeeding Against the Odds Award.
After working for 17 years, Sunette made a big decision to resign from her job to spend more time with her daughters and to support them in their extramural activities. She also made the decision to further her studies, and she enrolled for the N4 Tourism course with Oxbridge Academy in January 2016.
“I was extremely excited when I received my books and student card. I was so proud of myself.”
On 2 February 2016, however, everything changed: “I had a routine check-up with my gynaecologist. On this day, my life came to a standstill. The doctor suspected that I had cancer. I clearly remember the doctor holding my hand whilst explaining the following steps to me. This day my husband was at work and my daughters at school. I left the doctors rooms and I sat in my car in tears afraid of the unknown and afraid of dying.”
A short while later, Sunette was diagnosed with stage 2B cervical cancer, which had already spread to her lymph nodes. Her only treatment options were radiation and chemotherapy.
“I had a total of 6 chemo sessions, 35 radiation sessions and 5 brachytherapy sessions. On a Wednesday morning, I would go in to the oncologist to receive my chemotherapy… I would sit between very ill patients, but who had such positive mind sets. Directly after the chemotherapy, I had to walk down the passage for my radiation treatment, feeling weak and tired. By Wednesday evening I would be very ill, vomiting, having cold fever, my body shaking, and eventually I would be picked up from the bathroom floor. Each and every day was a struggle. Mondays and Tuesdays were my best days; I would live them to the fullest. On my best days, I would sit or lie on my bed and I would do my assignments. Some assignments took up to 3 weeks, but, bit by bit, I managed to submit them. I wanted to make a success out of my life and that meant that I had to do all possible to succeed in my course.”
Sunette says that the positivity of her fellow patients rubbed off on her, giving her the will to live life to the fullest, to be a super mom, and to make every day count. Through all her treatments, she successfully completed her N4, and she is determined to continue with her studies until she earns her diploma.
“I am pleased to say that God gave me a second chance and I recently started working again. I am working as an Outbound Travel Consultant. My N4 qualification opened a door for me for which I am extremely grateful and very proud. I am living my dream and I am loving life. Thanks to all at Oxbridge Academy who played a role in each and every step I took to succeed.”
Sunette has shown great willpower and strength of character throughout her journey, and we are proud to name her as a recipient of the Succeeding Against the Odds Award.
MOHLABA MARIA SELOKELA
Mohlaba grew up as an orphan and only child, and she was raised by her grandmother. She says:
“I was 6 years old, so I went to school and it was not nice at all, going to school without food and uniform, it’s like a shamble, but I never give up. I told myself that I want to pass and be a professional doctor. Unfortunately after my Matric I didn’t get enough marks to get a bursary and from my grandmother’s side also there was no money. I started looking for piece jobs to get money, hoping that one day I will be able to pay school fees with the money I worked for.”
She did not give up on the idea of studying, and she has encouraging words for others in a similar situation:
“I came across the Jet Club Magazine and I saw Oxbridge Academy. I took the numbers and I registered. This year it’s my last one… and I am enjoying what I am doing. To all people out there, don’t give up on your dreams, never allow any challenge to change your mind, stick to your words, and you’ll end up getting what your heart desires.”
Despite her circumstances, Mohlaba has stayed positive and committed to her goals, and we are pleased to congratulate her on being named as a recipient of the Succeeding Against the Odds Award.
Well done to the 2016 winners of our Succeeding Against the Odds award. Your hard work and dedication is a true inspiration!
Dillion Banda, a Security Management student at Oxbridge Academy, initially came to South Africa to escape the civil unrest in his home country, Zimbabwe. It was a treacherous journey.
When he arrived here, he started working as a security guard. He says:
The job of a Security Guard was a take it or leave it option. I took my Zimbabwean Diploma and degree and flushed them down the drain. I had no story to write home about.
In 2012, the dark cloud over me became more darker and gloomier, my financial situation began to drown me. It was that time when a Good Samaritan passed by pointing into the dark cloud for me to notice the silver lining. Behold on that lining sat proudly the Oxbridge Academy. My bridge to redemption and salvation.
It came with a dear price. I had to raise an initial registration fee. I sold my inherited flute that was passed on to me by my father when he passed on. May his soul rest in peace. It was like a burning knife was being shoved into my liver. I had thrown my bread into the river.
This was only the start of Dillion’s struggles. His wife lost her job, which meant that they lost their home, and they had to move into a shack. Dillion then took up extra work to help pay for his studies. He describes the situation as follows:
I found extra work to wash cars at the traffic lights to supplement my monthly course instalments. Every day at five o’ clock I woke up to study my tutorials, cockroaches and rats raced on the pages of tutorials, leaving them caked with brown and black stains. The highlighters of doom. The leaking roof was a nightmare. The shebeen next door was ever open with blurring and volcanic thundering music speakers and cheering, laughing, belching and whimpering voices of women and men. The smoke of cigarettes and ganja (marijuana) freely wafted and trickled into the cracks of my shack. The intoxicating smell of urine, human waste, vomit and rotten water played on my nose. My head twisted while I strained my eyes following the written lines in the dim candle light.
Further tragedy then struck his family – their shack burned to the ground, and they lost everything. Despite all of this hardship, however, Dillion persevered with his studies, until he completed his course and secured a better job:
One day I was found reading my last tutorial at work by my supervisor, overdue fatigue had overtaken me, and I was sleeping deeply with saliva drooling at the corner of my mouth, flooding my tutorial page. I escaped that ordeal through the eye of a needle with a verbal warning.
I finished my course in 2013, with full moon distinctions … in Security Management, laced and iced with a Cum Laude Commendation Award.
Today I am a Security Manager with a hefty gross salary of R10 000.00. I have enrolled again with Oxbridge Academy to embark on the Hotel and Catering Management course to augment my prospects in the Hotel Industry.
In the face of trying circumstances and numerous obstacles, Dillion has shown great commitment and determination. And in spite of all the hardships he faced, he managed to achieve excellent results in his studies. We are therefore proud to name him as a recipient of the Oxbridge Academy Medal for Succeeding Against the Odds.
Lizette grew up in an abusive home, with an alcoholic father who took her out of school when she was in Grade 9. After she was taken out of school, she tried to teach herself using her friends’ textbooks, but she couldn’t write the exams and therefore couldn’t get her certificates.
Lizette is now studying a bridging course at Oxbridge Academy, but she has not had an easy journey. She says:
In 2007 I met a wonderful man, got married and had 2 beautiful children. In 2013 we were attacked in our home, my husband was shot and killed in front of me and my two children, and I was 3 months pregnant with my third child. She was born 5 months later, 6 weeks prematurely. I was alone and had no family or support. I was a full-time working, single mother of 3.
I struggled on my own for two years with no help.
Last year, 08/02/2015, I met a man at a church camp, we got married this year, he also has 3 kids.
We both work full time. Life is so difficult with 6 kids to support, schooling and everything is so expensive. And I’m sure you can imagine that with Grade 8 as your highest level of education, the salary that I work for is anything but good.
A few months ago I decided that I need to start doing something, I need to try make something of myself for the sake of my kids, so I joined Oxbridge Academy, I don’t have much time for myself and only have the opportunity to do my assignments at night after 8PM when my kids go to sleep.
I believe that I have succeeded against all odds, I have been through a lot of trauma, pain and suffering in my life, but I have always been determined and a real fighter, I WILL NOT let anything get me down! Even though I don’t have a decent education, or much time on my hands, I always go out of my way to learn and make a success of anything.
Lizette has shown great courage, along with determination to succeed despite the challenges life has thrown at her. Not only is she doing well in her course, but she is clearly also committed to working hard towards a better future for herself and her family. We are therefore happy to name her as a recipient of the Oxbridge Academy Medal for Succeeding Against the Odds.
Mokitsi is a single mother and full-time employee. Aside from being financially responsible for her own immediate family, she is also financially responsible for her brother (who was forced to take early retirement due to a respiratory illness) and her niece (who was involved in a car accident). She says:
Back home in Limpopo I have to financially & emotionally support them [her brother, niece, and daughter]. At work I still have to be productive & perform. I have an 8-year-old that I have to fend for on my own. Daily homework supervisions, house chores, school meetings, Dr’s visits as she has severe chronic allergic rhinitis, shopping, sporting activities and so forth. I work long hours & it takes me 2 hours to and from work every day. Sometimes traffic is extremely bad. I use public transport .My bills include bond, insurance, food, school fees, study fees, data bundles, clothing, electricity, rates & taxes, transport for myself, & I take care of 3 households. It’s difficult. At the end I still have to study & write assignments. Most of the time I’m emotionally & physically tired. I have to pull myself together. Distance learning makes it all possible.
Despite her challenging circumstances, Mokitsi has shown great commitment to her studies. For this reason, we are proud to name her as a recipient of the Oxbridge Academy Medal for Succeeding Against the Odds.
In 2014, Tsebiso (a third-year geology student) and his sister had to drop out of university, as their father was retrenched. With only a Matric certificate and an incomplete university academic record in hand, Tsebiso then tried to find employment at the mines, but all in vain. His situation became even more difficult when his girlfriend later fell pregnant, and he was still unemployed.
To make matters worse, his father fell ill and was hospitalised for three months. Due to his father’s illness, his mother was forced to quit her job as a domestic worker. Tsebiso said:
My mom had to quit her job because of my father’s conditions which were worsening each and every day. One day, as sick as [my father] was, he took my hand and told me that winners are those who persist, those who never give up no matter how hard it can be. Though it wasn’t as easy as it sounded, I stood up and started a small family business called Nkaki Family Corporation; it specializes with cleaning products and community services. So far I’ve hired three people and hope to increase the number by the end of this year.
With his own business, Tsebiso hopes not only to employ more people, but also to provide bursaries, and to “encourage young people who are struggling with jobs to never stop dreaming but rather work hard and be creative.”
Tsebiso says that even though he did not expect to return to his studies, Oxbridge Academy has made it easy for him through affordable fees and clear, relevant study material.
Tsebiso has shown great entrepreneurial spirit, determination, and the will to succeed despite being faced with many obstacles. For this reason, we are proud to name him as a recipient of the Oxbridge Academy Medal for Succeeding Against the Odds.
NADIA VAN HEERDEN
Nadia registered with Oxbridge Academy because she believes that education is the key to success. For the past five years, she has been working as a Beauty Advisor in the retail industry, and she says that “there’s a lot of challenges in the beauty industry and there is always a new beauty trend coming out every year. Before I started to register as a student, I had a lack of self-confidence in myself all the time, because according to the people I am just a lady who is selling cosmetic products and it’s not like that.”
Aside from the difficulties she has faced in her career, Nadia has also experienced a difficult home life. In her motivational letter, she tells us that she lives with her brother, who has Bipolar Disorder, and who has threatened to take his life on numerous occasions. She also tells us how her mother is drunk almost every weekend, and shouts ugly words at her.
Despite the circumstances at home, Nadia believes that if you work hard, something good can come out of any situation, and that if you believe in yourself, anything is possible. So far, she has managed to achieve high marks in all her assignments, and she lives by the motto ‘if you dream it, you can achieve it’. To other students, she says:
“Remember that no one can take away what you have worked hard for. No one can take away your education.”
Even in trying circumstances, Nadia has shown strength of character, maintained a positive attitude, and achieved success in her studies. For this reason, we are happy to name Nadia as a recipient of the Oxbridge Academy Medal for Succeeding Against the Odds.
Riziki, who is from the Democratic Republic of Congo, struggled to pay for her studies while looking after her two children, a daughter who is seven and a son who is three. Her situation was made complicated by the fact that she is not a South African citizen. She says, “My life has never been easy at all, starting from the fact that I am not a South African citizen and have to find myself in an English speaking country with a passionate desire of taking my education further in order to give my two kids a better life.”
When she called to register at Oxbridge Academy, she wanted to study an international qualification, but was advised against doing so, as she is from a French-speaking country, and her English is poor. However, she insisted on registering for an international qualification, and she was determined to succeed despite the language barrier.
During her studies, her husband lost his job, and she became the sole breadwinner in their family. As a result, she became depressed and developed high blood pressure. But instead of letting her situation get to her, she persevered until she completed her international diploma.
Riziki has shown willingness to work hard, commitment to her studies, and determination to succeed despite the various obstacles in her way. For this reason, we are pleased to name Riziki as a recipient of the Oxbridge Academy Medal for Succeeding Against the Odds.
We are proud to announce the very first winners of the Oxbridge Academy Medal for Succeeding Against the Odds in 2015. Here are their stories!
LIZETTE JANSE VAN RENSBURG
Lizette Janse van Rensburg, from Mpumalanga, has been working for one of the biggest energy companies in South Africa for the past eight years. In 2011, doctors found a tumour in her pituitary gland. This was not the only health problem she was confronted with, however:
“As if that was not enough I was diagnosed with Epilepsy called Complex Partial Seizures… At that stage of my career I was having about 10 seizures a day which made it impossible for me to hand in my assignments on time. But that did not stop me from succeeding. I talked to the Assessor and they decided to give me longer time to complete my assignments. I always asked myself ‘why me what did I do wrong to deserve this’. But then I lift my head and go on again. I now accept my sickness and I am confident that I will and can succeed in anything I take on.”
It is particularly the flexibility that comes with distance learning that helped Lizette continue her studies despite her severe health problems.
She found out about Oxbridge Academy when her daughter wanted to study:
“I was browsing the net and came across Oxbridge Academy and I thought to myself ‘I also want to study again’ and at the beginning of the year I entered. I know I can succeed although it takes me longer to complete my assignments, but thanks to Oxbridge I can do my assignments on my own time. With God everything is possible and the assessors are kind enough to help me in every possible way.”
Living with an illness presents both a physical and a psychological obstacle. To remain optimistic and to take control over your life in these circumstances is an immense achievement, worthy of an award.
26-year-old Mathe Salome and her husband were both working as contract employees in rural Limpopo. When their contracts were terminated one after the other in 2010, they had nowhere to turn:
“The termination of his contract became a very stressful event to the family since he was promised that his contract was to be renewed but that didn’t come to pass. As the situation stood, we were no longer able to meet the basic necessities within our household. However, I didn’t allow such a situation to disgrace and intimidate me and my family. From the little money that was previously saved, I opened a small business … selling ice-creams, sweets, snacks, vetkoek and so forth from my house. The business was able to sustain the family even though the standard of living was never the same as before.”
Mathe’s entrepreneurial spirit was ignited. The spaza shop grew, and she and her husband bought two computers to open up their own internet café. With the profit from that little business, they eventually opened up a decorating business, too. It was at that point that she enrolled for her course at Oxbridge Academy:
“I then came to realise that I am passionate about businesses hence I have registered [with] Oxbridge Academy to acquire proper and formal skills to formalise my businesses and to ensure convenience and satisfying services to my customers.Even though I would earn a living from the businesses, things have never been easy for me. Serving as a wife, a mother, a businesswoman and a student at the same time is exhausting. However, I ensure that I secure and invest sufficient time for each task and responsibility with the hope that someday I will obtain all the necessary qualifications to grow my businesses, register as a company and employ people who will assist me successfully run and manage my businesses.” Mathe’s confidence and resilience exemplifies the ‘Succeeding Against the Odds’ award. She not only refused to let adversity get her down, but she succeeded in spite of it.
At age 11, Emile was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, a muscle disease that severely hampers movement and mobility. This disability became an immense obstacle when he wanted to pursue his studies:
“After I finished school it was very difficult to get into varsities due to my muscle problem because it limits me in many ways, like for example I can’t use public transport… I couldn’t get work either. It was a sad phase of my life.”
The comfort of distance learning, which allowed him to study from home, eventually enabled Emile to further his education:
“Then I found Oxbridge Academy. Wow! It changed my life. I can finally strive toward a better future. It suits my disability and everything is comfortable! I’m not financially stable but Oxbridge is so beautiful I can use my disability grant to pay my fees. I did very well in my first module already. Things are just getting greater for me. Winning this medal would inspire me more not to give up. To look past my present circumstances and reach for the stars”
Asheena Singh, a secretarial student and working mother from KwaZulu-Natal, has been working as an administrative clerk in the automotive industry for the past 10 years. In 2012, she was diagnosed with a serious lung disease:
“This sad news hit me rock bottom as I felt I was still so young. Being diagnosed with this illness I focused solely on my suffering. The anxiety and depression on a daily basis was too much for me to handle. I felt I needed to do something with my life to be a strong willed woman.”
One day as I sat at my desk, I browsed through my Jet club book and came across Oxbridge Academy courses. At that very moment I felt something so right about choosing my course and break away from depression and focus on something good that will benefit me one day. I’m glad to say I have finished 3 modules, and feel awesome about my results thus far. I am a confident woman and have accepted my sickness at the same time.”
Asheena is an inspiration to us all, as she showed us that no matter how dire the situation is, it is still possible to pick yourself up and to succeed at whatever it is that you have put your mind to. At the time of receiving her award for succeeding against the odds, Asheena had already passed 2 modules of her Executive Secretary (PA) course.
LONDIWE SITHEMBILE KELLY DLAMINI
Londiwe’s father passed away when she was only five years old. She was raised in difficult financial circumstances by her unemployed mother, but still found a way to rise above her circumstances, and to do something positive with her life:
“I have been able to pay my school fees by doing peace jobs wash, cleaning and ironing around my area Vosloorus. Sometimes I will not have food in the house because the money is too little I need to pay my school fees. I also sell perfume from different products at my church. I also help with cleaning the church on voluntary basis at High Praise Centre every weekend and also help the vulnerable children cook for them and hand parcel to their families every Thursday when not occupied.”
Londiwe started studying Occupational Health and Safety at Oxbridge Academy in May 2014, and will be finishing her course this year. So far, she has earned a distinction in one of her modules, making her a deserving recipient of the Special Merit Award for achieving academic excellence and succeeding against the odds.
Tlhanola, an Oxbridge Academy Student from Virginia in the Free State, was left with sole responsibility for his three younger siblings when his mother tragically passed away in 2011. While he was mainly responsible for putting food on the table, he also took it upon himself to make sure that his siblings could get the education that they deserved:
“All task of attending parents school meetings were due to be my responsibility, and the need for both my brother and sister’s performance in school to remain high was depending on me to always make a huge call so that homework, assignments, projects, the practice of mathematics for my little brother and reading the English sounds, all could be done and be prepared in time.”
At some point I had to find a casual job so that my course fees could be paid in time and some of the fees to be upfront. And I got a job at a taxi and that made the paying of the fees to be possible, paying some of the bills at home like buying bread, milk, and R50 electricity were at least made to be achievable.
Despite all his responsibilities toward his siblings, Tlhanola still managed to complete two full courses via distance learning — and he even succeeded in completing his 12-month Safety Management Course in under 8 months. Tlhanola’s commitment to education, along with his outstanding academic achievement, makes it clear that he is a deserving recipient of the Oxbridge Academy Medal for Succeeding Against the Odds.