Unisa graduate and new mother achieves 27 distinctions

Jaqueline Nkambule, wife and mother to a one-month-old baby boy graduated cum laude with 27 distinctions from the College of Human Sciences during Unisa’s autumn graduations. The 35-year-old mother from Karen Park enjoys working out at the gym, playing volleyball, and, most of all, looking after her newborn baby Jubilee. She’s an avid bookworm who reads a great deal in her spare time.

Nkambule began her studies in BA (HSS) in psychological counselling in the second semester of 2010, and, even though it took her longer than she expected to complete her studies because of obstacles she faced along the way, she persevered. There was a certain period when she felt like dropping out because of an illness she was facing and being a newlywed.

Then she found out about her pregnancy which she was ecstatic about and this made her optimistic for the future. She realised she wasn’t doing her studies for herself anymore but also for her child who would be looking up to her and following her example. “This made me more determined than ever to push harder and make my dreams a reality so that Jubilee can be proud of his mother, see how hard I worked, and that he too can reach his dreams.”

When she looks back at all she faced she beams with pride and happiness to think that despite it all she didn’t just complete her degree but she also got 27 distinctions out of 30. “The 27 distinctions were very much deliberate; I actually aimed for 30 distinctions,” she proudly adds.

Even though she works in the engineering field, Nkambule had a passion for growth, evolution, listening, learning, and new discoveries which prompted her to study psychology. She loves working with people and believes that together we can help each other to discover our own strengths, which she realised, is possible in the psychology field where there is a platform that allows you to help others.

She explains that the best part of studying through the College of Human Sciences (CHS) at Unisa was working with lecturers and cyberstudy buddies who she had never met but felt so connected to. She feels like she wouldn’t have made it without them. The college has introduced her to many fields in psychology that she wasn’t aware of before, some of which have sparked even more interest, particularly community psychology, which she hopes to pursue in the future as she is currently now studying towards her honours.

Despite South Africa being more than 20 years into a new democracy that acknowledges gender equality, she feels women are still marginalised in many spheres of life. Nkambule’s advice to other Unisa students and especially women is that education is one of the few tools that work to their advantage and that they should make use of it.

“Education is a powerful tool that women can use as their voice to be heard, it can usher them to higher places in life and open doors that in any other way wouldn’t be open for them. With ever-changing technology, the political upheavals, economic instabilities and many other changes taking place in our country, education will be our means to keep up, be noticed, and survive in the future,” she said.

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