Graduating against all odds - stories that moved the internet

14 December 2018 - 07:11 By Odwa Mjo
Aldo Amenta at his graduation, three years after a diving accident left him paralysed.
Aldo Amenta at his graduation, three years after a diving accident left him paralysed.

Graduations are a memorable milestone in the lives of many who put in the late nights, blood, sweat, tears and finances to move one step closer to their dreams.

In graduation season, social media is often flooded with posts of graduates sharing their touching stories about their journey to the stage. 

Here are five moving graduation stories we've seen:

 
1. Aldo Amenta

A video of a paralysed graduate receiving his qualification on stage is making waves on social media and leaving people swimming in emotion.   

After breaking his neck in a  accident that left him in a coma three years ago, Aldo Amenta walked across the stage using an exoskeleton to receive his diploma at the Florida International University on December 10. 

2.  Bonginkosi Khanyile

After being suspended from university and jailed for six months for his activism in the #FeesMustFall movement, Bonginkosi Khanyile graduated with a bachelor of technology in public management cum laude at the Durban University of Technology.

Khanyile graduated a day after he was suspended for taking part in the student protests which turned violent.

#FeesMustFall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile graduates from the Durban University of Technology.
#FeesMustFall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile graduates from the Durban University of Technology.

3. Granny gets capped 

Law graduate Njabulo Ntombela surprised his great-grandmother when he ushered her across the stage to get capped at his graduation ceremony at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. 

"I wanted to share this honour with her because my success is her. She is the reason I was able to get an education,"  Ntombela told TimesLIVE in April.  Ntombela lost his parents and was taken care of by his great-grandmother. 

Njabulo Ntombela, 27, surprises his great-grandmother Nomkikilizo Ntombela, 89, by honouring her with his law degree.
Njabulo Ntombela, 27, surprises his great-grandmother Nomkikilizo Ntombela, 89, by honouring her with his law degree.
Image: Abhi Indrarajan

4. Nathanael Stahler

The 19-year-old who was abandoned as an infant in 1999 graduated from college in the US after moving there in 2000 with his  adoptive parents. 

Stahler was one of the first babies to be taken in by the Door of Hope Baby Home, after being abandoned at the roadside in Johannesburg.

He penned a letter to the home where he lived for the first 28 months of his life before being adopted.

"I was an abandoned baby — Now I'm a graduate," he said in the letter.

Nathanael Stahler and his family.
Nathanael Stahler and his family.
Image: Facebook/Door of Hope

5. A bittersweet ending

Amanda Kotze, the mother of 26-year-old Gerbrandt, took to the stage on Tuesday to receive a degree on behalf of her son who died of cancer in June.

The Stellenbosch student obtained a master of sciences degree just six months after his passing. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017 which spread to his liver.

Gerbrandt died two weeks before his parents were told that he had met the requirements to graduate. 

Stellenbosch University student Gerbrandt Kotze, who earned his master of science degree posthumously after dying of cancer.
Stellenbosch University student Gerbrandt Kotze, who earned his master of science degree posthumously after dying of cancer.
Image: Amanda Kotze
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