Noluthando Cibane has recently graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) at the age of 19.
At this age, many young people are just starting their tertiary studies. The daughter of a domestic worker at the Department of Public Works, Noluthando says there were many times when she felt like packing it all in, but knew that failure was never an option.
“Sometimes I wanted to give up,” she says. “It happened a lot, but luckily I’m surrounded by people who have ambition, who have vision, who always reminded me that it was just a phase. You can’t always win – you sometimes have to fail, but grow from that. Success is never easy.”
Growing up in a family of six, Noluthando says that things were tough. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funded her undergraduate degree but things became more difficult when she wanted to register for her postgraduate studies. Her mother and father had to scramble to find money to pay for her registration fees.
“My parents borrowed money for me to register and when I registered they said, ‘Let’s just hope that God will make a plan,” she says.
She was later awarded a bursary to continue her studies.
She’s now doing her honours in finance so she can take care of her family.
Noluthando’s parents worked hard to give her and her four siblings the best they could, but growing up, she realised things weren’t easy.
“It’s been very hard for my parents all these years,” she says. “They have always tried to give us everything we needed for school, but you could see that it was very hard on them.”
Noluthando says she’s very grateful to them for everything. “We never went to bed without food in our stomachs. We could see that things were hard for them, but they didn’t want to show it.”
She says she would like to impress upon other young people that they should never give up on their dreams and that they should work hard to achieve their goals.
“I think you should just go for it, no matter what people say. Whether they’re discouraging or not, you just go for it. You never know.”