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The Durban University of Technology (DUT) staff member, Dr Thobela Precious Biyela from Umlazi C section, Durban obtained her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Biotechnology from DUT on Tuesday, 23 May 2023 at the Olive Convention Centre (OCC).

Dr Biyela serves as a Post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Water and Wastewater Technology (IWWT), where she gets to be a part of two things that she is most passionate about, which is research and skills transfer through student supervision.

Throughout it all, she attributes her achievement to her sister Mondisa Chonco, her husband, Oscar Biyela and her dearest friend Unathi Badela, whose unwavering support made it possible. She believes that these individuals took turns in playing various roles as the need arose, from being her prayer partner, to being her supporters, her cheerleaders and keeping her grounded through it all. “This is definitely a win for the whole family, because I just laid a foundation for generations to come as a reminder that nothing is impossible,” she said

 In all spheres of life, Dr Biyela made the word of God the standard route, in order to gain stability for her life and draw great motivation from it daily. On the journey to completing this milestone she had particularly drawn strength and stamina from a verse taken from Isaiah 46V10, that speaks about God declaring the end in the beginning, the revelation of this verse has kept her going especially in moments when she was tempted to give up. It assured her that when she began this PhD journey, God had already completed therefore she had to stay the course for the guaranteed victory.

“As with any journey hurdles are inevitable, the greatest challenge was the battle within. When faced with the low blows and failures that came with research I needed to dig deep and encourage myself. Constant revisits to the vision and motivation for taking on the journey helped build confidence from within especially when faced with the last and most challenging lap of my race,” said Dr Biyela, sharing about the challenges she had encountered along the way.

Dr Biyela believes that studying and conducting research is challenging, and even more so when combined with working and family life. Having a realistic roadmap of her academic journey which factored in some detours, being 100% present in her work and family life, and simply being grounded has been the best blend to help her successfully strike a balance between working and studying and family.

“I was once asked if I considered myself to be successful, while tempted to measure my success with materials accumulated, I then realised my success is measured by accomplishments, not materials accumulated, and I feel inexplicable joy having completed this mammoth task,” she said.

Dr Biyela believes that her secret recipe to achieving her PhD was putting God first.

Pictured: Dr Thobela Precious Biyela

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