Cuml aude graduate make sit against all odds

When Thapelo Lebese (21) completed his matric he wanted to study Accounting. Due to the unavailability of space he ended up enrolling for Internal Auditing, and fell in love with it instantly. During the Tshwane University of Technology’s Autumn Graduation ceremonies currently underway, he finally obtained the National Diploma in Internal Auditing cum laude, with a whopping 28 distinctions out of 30 modules. He was also awarded the Chancellor’s medal for outstanding academic performance.

“This is only the beginning,” said Lebese who is now pursuing a B Tech in Internal Auditing.  According to him, many students complain that the course is difficult, but his passion and dedication made it seem like a walk in the park. He said because of the great support from family and lecturers, he knew he would nail it, but he didn’t expect to pass cum laude.

Lesebe is from Ga-Motla, a small village in the North West where, a lot of community members, including his parents, are illiterate. He is driven by the need to study hard in order to break the cycle. “I come from a place where a lot of people are not educated, my parents couldn’t finish primary school and they struggle because of their lack of education. Because they couldn’t even get minimum schooling I must get the highest qualifications possible,” Lebese said.

While growing up he used to ask God to show him his talent because he couldn’t dance or sing like his peers and he believes that God blessed him academically. Ever since high school, he has been performing well academically.

Lebese advises students to enrol for something that they love, ”A lot of students choose courses that they don’t like for the sake of having a qualification and that affects them later, they often end up dropping out because they can’t keep up,” he adds.

Like many students Lebese experienced financial problems, but he didn’t allow that to stop him - he appreciates what he has and made peace with what he doesn’t have. “Varsity life can be difficult because of peer pressure and trends. Young people want to fit in, often forgetting where they come from. This can result in them doing the wrong things in order to fulfil their wants and they can end up not performing well academically,” he said.

Lebese added that students should always remember the purpose of them coming to university and they should work hard to graduate in record time.

As the oldest of four siblings, one of the things that motivates him to work hard, is that he has to set the right example to them. Also, he wants to make his parents proud. A passionate academic at heart, he believes that acquiring knowledge and skills, is vital to ensure a bright future.

Lebese is currently also the president of the Internal Audit Student Association (IASA) and a tutor for Financial Accounting. Having experienced first-hand the difficulties of adjusting to varsity life and overcoming these with the help of a mentor, this gives him an opportunity to also assist other students to overcome their burdens and challenges. My brilliant mentor, Joseph Matlhwale, played such an important role in helping me to overcome my loneliness, to start interacting with other people and participating in extracurricular activities.

“When I came to university I was an introvert, I didn’t want to enter any programmes. I just wanted to focus on my studies, but that affected me negatively, because I was an academic giant and social dwarf. In my second year I became a mentor, which helped me to grow immensely. Assisting other students also helped me to be more focused and master my studies.”

The secret behind his success is praying and working equally hard. One of the most valuable lessons Lebese has learnt is to not compare himself to anyone. “It is important to understand your own uniqueness, appreciate your academic strengths and know what your capabilities are,” he said.

His future plans include joining one of the big four auditing firms, obtaining at least a doctorate degree and, in time, probably become a lecturer.

Internal Auditing cum laude graduate Thapelo Lebese.

For more information on the Tshwane University of Technology please contact Willa de Ruyter on tel: 012 382 5352 or send an email to