Slice of Life: If at first you don’t succeed

I’ve been working on getting my degree in accounting sciences at Wits for six years now. This degree was only supposed to take me three years. This is not strange at Wits, though, especially in my course, because the academics are so intense. I’ve struggled to match this level of intensity in my studying, but I keep trying.

So many people ask me why I don’t just give up, but what they don’t get is that this is not my degree alone.

I want to be a chartered accountant and my financial freedom will allow me to take care of my mom and siblings. My mom was a domestic worker for 15 years and I grew up in a one-room house in Alex. I want to take my family out of that situation. This degree is theirs too.

There definitely was a time when I wanted to give up though. 2015 was a really tough year for me. I was emotionally exhausted after my dad died, but I was so sure that I was going to pass the three courses I was doing that year because I put my all into them.

When I got my results, I had failed all three, which meant that I had to return the next year to repeat them instead of graduating. I was so disappointed in myself.


I remember telling my mom:  “I can’t do it. I’m obviously not smart enough for this degree and for Wits,”  but her support and love for me is what kept me going.

I’ve realised that failure is all about interpretation. I no longer see failure as a reflection of my intelligence, but rather as an opportunity to get better and work harder.

We’ll see what this year brings. — Nothando Kunene (25), as told to Mashadi Kekana

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