The exited Margaret said neither sacrifice, nor perseverance knows race, age or gender. “Both demand of you to put all distractions aside to finish anything you are tasked to do. Quitting was not an option when I set out to complete the final stretch of my academic journey, which started in 2018,” she said.
“Being a single mother who needed to further my education, the odds seemed to be stacked against me even before I begun. Trying to fight the feelings of guilt of not being fully present in raising my child and still trying to deliver the highest standard of work academically, became a taxing and vicious circle,” she added.
“In the aftermath of a traumatic divorce, I had to to suspend my studies in 2010. It felt like the stigma of personal and academic failure was hanging around my neck like a scarlet letter. Working as a contractor between three different sites, I slowly watched my aspirations of progress slip away. As the sole breadwinner of our home, every cent I earned ensured a roof over our heads and food on the table. Dreams, it seemed, were for the wealthy - mine became a road of survival,” she elaborated.
“Luckily for me, Prof Uwe Hermann and Prof Norman Tshipala found me where the world had left me. They became my mentors and were relentless as my supervisors. They restored my hope and proved to me that it really takes an entire Department to graduate a student. The words ‘I can’t’ do not exist in their vocabularies and neither one of them was prepared to allow me to give up. They talked me off the proverbial academic ledge time and time again,” said Margaret.
Margaret also commended a couple of other colleagues for their support. “My gratitude goes to Dr Isa van Aardt, Dr Portia Sifolo and Ms Lorraine Molefe, who were undoubtedly my loudest supporters at the Department of Tourism Management. Together, these incredible women showed me what going beyond Ubuntu means.”
“This success is not singularly mine to own. I celebrate each person who selflessly went on this journey with me. I celebrate their dedication and I celebrate them,” she added.
Margaret concluded with a quote from Viktor Frankl, Austrian neurologist who developed the theory of logotherapy, which claims that through a search for meaning in life, individuals can endure and overcome suffering. ”When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”