Palisa Mofokeng graduated Cum laude for her Diploma in Analytical Chemistry at the 2023 Durban University of Technology (DUT) Spring Graduation. The graduation ceremony took place at the Olive Convention Centre (OCC) during the afternoon session on Monday,18 September 2023.
The Harrismith born graduate began her journey with DUT in 2020 when she enrolled to study for her Diploma in Analytical Chemistry. It was not really a smooth sailing journey for Mofokeng because there were challenges that she faced as a student and also in her personal life. Mofokeng said she told herself that she needs to soldier on regardless of what she was going through because she felt when she was no longer a student at DUT, she will not be able to look back, be proud of herself and be able to tell her story and inspire others.
The 22-year-old fell in love with chemistry in high school in Grade 10. “I have always been curious during practical/experimental classes and had so many questions as to why certain reactions were occurring. I have always been eager to learn more on chemistry and be introduced to more different aspects of it as well. I would like to say that during my three years of studying, I did learn what I have always been curious about and more. Sometimes I feel like a young scientist,” explained Mofokeng.
In 2020, during Mofokeng’s first year of being a student at DUT. She experienced various challenges such as online learning due to COVID-19. It took her time to adapt to online learning because it was very different from attending physical lectures. Network connections were also a big challenge for Mofokeng because in her area they had bad internet connection due to load shedding. This resulted in Mofokeng missing her lectures. Another challenge that took a toll on her was when her father was retrenched at work and he was the only breadwinner at the time.
“That made me lose focus a bit on my studies but I thank God I was able to pull through from that as well,” said Mofokeng.
Being the last born in a family of three girls, her parents and two sisters showered her with love and have been very protective of her for as long as she can remember. Growing up in such a warm and safe environment with so much love in her family has influenced her to be very family orientated. Her family has been her biggest supporters throughout her DUT journey. When she delivered the news that she was going to graduate cum laude her family and close friends were all excited. Her mother could not hold back her tears because of how proud she was of her. Her mother said: “I am so proud of you my girl, I wish I had a lot of money to buy you a small car suitable for you,” added Mofokeng. This was a very emotional yet exciting moment for her family.
Mofokeng ecstatically said, “I am very excited to be graduating cum laude, it is such a huge achievement for me since this is my first qualification. To be honest, it was not really a surprise to me because I knew that all the hard work I have put in my studies would pay off at the end and this. My siblings graduated a couple of years ago with excellent results. They are hard workers hence they did exceedingly well in their studies. So, as the youngest I had to keep up and make my family proud.”
Mofokeng is currently working as an inservice trainee at ALS Analysis and Inspection in Durban for a twelve month period (fixed contract). She is planning on furthering her studies next year to do her Advanced Diploma in Analytical Chemistry. She is hoping that one day she will obtain a scholarship to study abroad because that has always been her dream growing up. “I am really aiming higher, hence in the next four to five years. I see myself with a PhD qualification in chemistry,” commented Mofokeng.
“My advice I could give to a first year student is that if you set your mind to something, you can achieve it,” said Mofokeng to students who are embarking on the same career path.
Pictured: Palisa Mofokeng on her graduation day