Being the first woman in her family and her community to go to university and obtaining excellent results has been a major feat for the Durban University of Technology (DUT) student Nokuphila Yvonne Biyela.
“Women, you have to fight for what is yours no matter where you come from. Keep on pushing to achieve your goals. Do not let any situation control your life and limits your dream. For me, to fulfil my dream, I needed to choose between my marriage and my career. I chose myself first, my kids’ future because marriage just adds value to my surname but education adds value to my entire life,” she said euphorically.
Biyela, who currently works as a secretary at the Faculty of Management Sciences, will be graduating with her Postgraduate Diploma in the Faculty of Management Sciences: specialising in Business Administration at the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) 2022 Virtual Autumn Graduation ceremony on Monday, 16 May 2022. DUT will soon announce the dates for the physical, in-person graduation events.
The 38-year-old mother of two, Lindani and Palisa Ngema will not forget the life-altering decision she had to make to choose her academic studies over her marriage.
She grew up with her grandmother Thembalinye Biyela, who sadly passed on. Biyela was then left with her mom, four sisters and one brother, matriculating in 2005 with the hope of going to university to continue with her studies.
“Unfortunately, my family did not have the money for my studies which prompted me to look for a job at Shoprite which I luckily got. I wanted to break this vicious circle of being poor and uneducated in my family and community. I told myself one day I will graduate, have a nice house, car, a decent job and be a role model to my children and community,” she said.
Still holding onto that dream, in 2015 Biyela took the plunge and got married, a year into the marriage, her husband was not enthusiastic about her dream of studying at university level and issued her an ultimatum to either choose between her career or her family (marriage).
“I decided to choose my career so that I can fulfil my grandmother’s wish to be a graduate like other children. Unfortunately, my marriage ended with my husband also remarrying. I now realised that our vision was not the same,” she said sadly.
With her personal chapter of her life brought to an unforeseen halt, Biyela started her new period of her life with her academic studies at DUT.
“I began applying through the CAO, whilst at Shoprite and during my lunch breaks. After my application was accepted and successful, I resigned from Shoprite to embark on becoming a professional marketer. The journey was not easy but I managed to finish and obtain four distinctions in my National Diploma in Management Sciences: Marketing, and in my Advanced Diploma in Management Sciences, I achieved three distinctions,” she explained joyfully.
Biyela also expressed that her journey would not have happened had it not been for the amazing role models like her aunt and Alumni Director, Mr Zwakele Ngubane. “Today my dream came true because of the alumni bursary fund which helped to fund my studies. Today I am a role model to my family, community and my children because of the Alumni Bursary Fund.”
She explained that others in the community are now even returning to complete their matric after they saw her coming back home with her qualifications in 2019.
Going forward, her wish is to obtain a permanent job so that she can build a house, be able to take care of her family and to continue with her studies to fulfil her dream to be a Doctor and Professor Biyela one day.
Pictured: Nokuphila Biyela