It’s graduation season, and tertiary students are reaping the benefits of their hard work! Andiswa Masondo’s sleepless nights were compensated for by delight on April 20, 2022, when her ambitions of becoming the first graduate in her family finally came true.
Andiswa Masondo is a 21-year-old graduate born in Newcastle, KwaZulu Natal. She graduated with a B.A Journalism degree at the University of the Free State and is currently pursuing her honours in Communication Science.
Andiswa, like many other students, did not have an easy time at university. She recalls being criticised in high school for wanting to pursue a profession in communication rather than health science, as her teachers and peers expected.
“Being an A-Student comes with a lot of pressure and expectations from peers and teachers. My teachers were surprised to find out that I am going to being studying journalism and not medicine or something similar, since I did well in science back in high school,” she said.
The news of her unconditional acceptance into a course she loved inspired her to continue with her decision, despite the assumption that if you take science in high school, you should do something similar in university. Furthermore, the thought of living in a foreign province inspired her to imagine herself traveling and exploring the world.
“My school had a system in place where if you did well in science in grade 10, you were automatically placed in science beyond grade 10. But becoming a journalist has always been a passion of mine since I was a little girl,” said Masondo.
For students who wish to learn how to be independent and away from parents; starting university in a different province is an exciting experience. But this was not the situation for Andiswa, who lost both her parents at an early age.
“Even though I knew this was what I really wanted, I was saddened when I had to move to Free State. This was simply due to the fact that it was difficult to witness first-year students arrive with their parents and being reminded that my parents would have wanted to drop me off at varsity as well, but God took their lives before they could. Nonetheless, I was pleased to be here and to have the opportunity to shape my future however I wanted,” she said.
Masondo claims that she did not want her circumstances to hold her back, thus she created her own family within the university’s residence. Moreover, the environment was very accommodative and she did not feel the void of not having parents and support.
Andiswa’s academic journey, like any other student’s, was not without bumps. She claims that it was difficult for her to keep up with the workload, but the idea that she wanted to make her parents proud kept her going.
“My academic journey was hectic but adventurous. I got to experience things I have never experienced and it taught me a lot of things. Time management, independence and staying true to myself are some of the things I have learnt. And the one thing that kept me focused is the fact that I want to make my parents proud and create a better future for myself,” said Masondo with a grateful smile.
Masondo feels that in order to thrive in university, one must develop a firm personality because it is easy to be shaken and lose focus.
“People should know that we are unique for a reason. I am not one to change myself to fit a certain narrative. From back home, I knew that I was never a liker of things, so why would I want to change now that I am in a different setting. The more people try to impress others is the more they lose themselves and that is how you lose focus in life,” she said firmly.
Given South Africa’s high unemployment rate, the newly graduate has no regrets of continuing her studies despite the possibility of being unemployed.
“I have heard stories of people who got their dream jobs after 15 years of graduation. Patience is key. I do not have any regret of coming to university even if there are possibilities of being unemployed. Graduating was one of my goals in life, and the mere fact that I have achieved it is enough for me to be grateful,” said Masondo.
Andiswa advises prospective university students to stay true to themselves and to be passionate about what they want to study in order to avoid being future dropouts.