From domestic worker to graduate: Ntombizodwa Mahlangu proves there is a reason to dream
Nothing is impossible.
The inspirational Ntombizodwa Mahlangu received huge support from all over the world after she shared a picture of her transition from domestic worker to university graduate.
"I am so humbled and grateful for the support. When I shared that picture on Facebook I never thought that it would be so viral," she said.
"As much as my friends are motivated, so am I. Because of the messages from across the world I have realised that the journey has just began. There is more to come," Mahlangu told TimesLIVE.
She graduated at University of South Africa (Unisa) in September with a degree in public administration and communications facilitation.
The 33-year-old grew up in Tonteldoos, near Dullstroom in Mpumalanga.
Mahlangu and her siblings did not live with their parents because they were working in Boksburg, Gauteng. Her mother was a domestic worker and her father worked in construction. The children spent most of their years with their grandparents.
She said she found great courage and inspiration from her mother. "She told us [siblings] that she wants us to reach our full potential, so I always wanted to impress her."
Mahlangu, a mother of one, was a domestic worker from 2007 to 2011 and used some of the money to complete a computer course.
She said the job was a "learning curve" and had taught her communication skills. It also taught her how to be organised and plan strategically to finish tasks at hand.
Her next job, in 2012, was in the offices of a physiotherapist and at the same time she obtained a certificate in office management, also from Unisa.
Mahlangu then went to work for the Council for Debt Collectors, first as a personal assistant and then, in 2016, as a public relations officer, a job she still does.
During this period she started her degree in public relations and communications facilitation. Her employer helped pay for her studies.
She had to work during the day and in the evenings help her 13-year-old daughter with homework as well as complete assignments and study for exams.
"The end results kept me motivated. I always thought of my graduation day and how my parents would be proud me. That made me open a book and study even when I was tired," she said.
"It is really not easy to study and work at the same time, but it is doable. It just needs determination and willpower," says Mahlangu.
"I have learned that nothing is impossible as long as you put your full effort and work hard towards reaching that goal. As said by one of my Facebook’s friends, 'it is never too late until you are the late'."
Despite her parents not living long enough to see her in graduation attire, Mahlangu hopes her story will inspire others not to give up on their dreams.
"There is always a reason for a dream. Giving up that dream is like giving up on your whole being. It is not going to be easy, but with a God all things are possible."