Growing up physically challenged did not shatter Nonkululeko Nhlengethwa’s dreams of academic success – this week she graduated with an Honours Degree in Business Administration from private higher education institution, MANCOSA.
Born in Nongoma in KwaZulu-Natal, Nhlengethwa contracted tuberculosis of the spine at the age of 12 and could only move with the aid of crutches or a wheelchair.
Nhlengethwa was fortunate to have great support from friends to help her get around primary school as the school lacked the necessary infrastructure for children with disabilities. She subsequently matriculated from Mlokothwa High School.
The 36-year-old holds a Diploma in Office Management and Technology. She served as a Training and Development Administrator at the Engen Oil Refinery for seven years and now works at Transnet as a Senior Administration Officer in the legal and compliance department.
Nhlengethwa stated that MANCOSA has paid attention to the small details that she needed and has catered well for physically challenged students.
“I hope that people with physical disabilities can be inspired by my story; that being in a wheelchair does not define who I am. I can still strive for greatness and achieve my goals just like any other person. I wish to be a beacon of hope and inspiration to many people living with physical disabilities in different communities,” she said.
One of the major challenges that Nhlengethwa has faced in her lifetime was stepping out of her comfort zone when she resigned to join a new job while also being a single mother.
She was inspired by her mother, who raised seven children and pursued a career as a nurse.
“The lessons I have learnt in life are to never give up and to be able to stand up against all odds. My message of support to aspiring youth is to have goals in place and to live by what Nelson Mandela once said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’,” she said.
Nhlengethwa plans to complete her Master’s degree with MANCOSA and to be counted amongst the pioneers in the corporate industry.
She is working towards having her own foundation that will help to address the needs of the physically challenged people in communities in the future.
Professor Magnate Ntombela, principal of MANCOSA said: “Nonkululeko’s story confirms, in a heart-warming manner, the seriousness with which MANCOSA pursues its vision, namely: Education for a better world for all.
“An inclusive approach demands that MANCOSA makes reasonable accommodation when students with disabilities register to study at the institution.
“The determination showed by Nonkululeko, is an inspiration to all of us since it reminds us that being differently-abled is not an insurmountable barrier, especially when the necessary support is provided.”