Thuto Chopo (25), also known as The Fabulous Thuto (his stage name), is a visually impaired student who obtained an Advanced Diploma in Business Administration at one of TUT’s autumn graduation ceremonies today. This is the second qualification he obtains from the University.
"When you are used to these fights like I am, you end up becoming someone who wakes up daily to step into the day as if the day owes you something, and you walk through the day like a magnet and go to bed like a conqueror," says Thuto, who turned blind at age eleven.
With his "I can" approach to life and inextinguishable determination, he completed Grade 12 at the Prinshof School for the Visually Impaired in 2016 and, being an entrepreneur at heart, decided to enrol for a course in Entrepreneurship at TUT, which he started in 2018.
"I’m excited to obtain my second qualification today; my family is happy too. It’s been an exciting journey. At the same time, I acknowledge that if it wasn't for God’s will and my own responsibility, this wouldn’t be a reality."
But, he admits, that his academic journey has not been without challenges. "I struggled with accounting as this was my first time doing the subject. To overcome this challenge, I built close relationships with accounting tutors and, as a result, passed all my assessments and, eventually, my academic year. Another challenge was that I didn’t have a bursary for the whole year. One TUT mentor shared with me her bursary meal allowance, and that is how I survived."
Thuto, who stays in the Magalies residence at the Pretoria Campus, also expressed his gratitude towards Ivy Morulani from the TUT Disability Unit, who helped him get e-books from publishers for all his modules, and also facilitated all his assessments into readable softcopy question papers and answer sheets.
His academic journey would also not have been possible without his accounting tutor, Hlulani Edward Hlungani, whom Thuto says took his time to make him understand accounting to the core. "Most importantly, I give a big thanks to my mom, Julia Chopo, for her fountain of love towards me and for setting up the foundation of the man I am today."
What advice does he have for other students with impairments who wish to successfully complete their studies like him? "Read your books, speak up when you need help, and build good relationships with your lecturers and mentors. I have two mentors, Dr Patrick Ebewo, my business mentor, and Pastor Thomas Mabotje from First Love Techrand, my spiritual mentor. My business mentor guides me through my business career, and my pastor equips me with knowledge and understanding in my Christian walk. Spiritual growth and finances play a big part in my well-being, and that’s why I learn from these two gentlemen."
Thuto, who is currently enrolled for a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration, is also an accomplished musician with the stage name The Fabulous Thuto. He sings all sorts of styles and performs at clubs, corporate events, churches, and any special occasions. He is also a motivational speaker.
Follow him on social media @The Fabulous Thuto or contact him at email@example.com.