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Thabile Mpungose is all smiles upon hearing of her first-rate achievements of obtaining Cum Laude and the prestigious Dean’s Merit Award for her Advanced Diploma in Nautical Studies.

The enigmatic 26-year-old Mpungose will be graduating at the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) 2022 Virtual Autumn Graduation today, 16 May 2022.

“I’m still in shock to have received the news that I will be graduating with Cum Laude and the Dean’s Merit Award. I’m so fortunate to witness all my hard work. Through it all I always tell myself that once you in, there’s always a way out, either you go out empty-handed or fully equipped, the effort lies in us,” she remarked.

Her family is beyond excited with her achievements. They have seen her spending sleepless night trying to catch up and witnessed her tears when she had encountered challenges such as losing her electronic work at the last minute.

“My mother said she is blown away and absolutely proud of me knowing how hard and stressful it was. My siblings call me Miss Cum Laude,” she beamed.

Born and raised in KwaZulu-Natal, Nkandla in an area called Mvutshini Area, Mpungose is the 3rd of seven children, raised by a single mother who has been her strength and only breadwinner at home but who always made sure her family received a good education.

For Mpungosenautical studies was always her choice and it is her way of telling young dreamers that they can rise from the village to the world, and that their backgrounds are not their future. When growing up, she knew she wanted to help people and chose a career that contributed a lot in South Africa’s economics because she knows that a country with a healthy economy will fight poverty.

Her journey at the university began in 2014, when she moved to Durban with her sister of whom were in the same grade, and both headed to university without funds. At that time her brother was in Springfield College, and he dropped out so that his mother would be able to accommodate her and her sister in the loans she was constantly taking.

“With all the challenges I ended up getting help from student counselling. I left to start my cadetship and I came back in 2019 to complete my S4. I used to tell my brother the diploma is for him for the sacrifice, and he passed on that year. I wanted to further my study in 2020 but due to financial problems, I couldn’t but I never gave up. I came back in 2021 and I managed to do late registration in April, that was the beginning of sleepless nights. It has been a long journey,” she stressed.

Mpungose always believed in herself and despite the challenges, she did her best to succeed.

“I have encountered a lot of challenges in this journey, working and studying but I always tell myself that I have to finish what I started no matter how long. I have worked to pay off my fees. I have spent sleepless nights doing more research which led me to getting good grades,” she expressed happily.

Mpungose also believes her journey would be incomplete without her thanking her academic peers. She thanked the lectures who delivered their work in a manner that through her studies she began to focus in South Africa and discovered a lot of maritime sectors that needed more advanced knowledge. With all the information she has thus far she aims to contribute and share it in the marine and shipping industry.

“The aim is to grow us and the future generation. Maritime studies are a broad field with more research and advanced knowledge we can take our South African maritime into greater height. It’s very wise to choose a career through passion for it takes the determination in order to see the need to invest and grow,” she said.

Doing Advanced Diploma in Nautical Studies gave her more passion to come back to the roots of Maritime in South Africa and its current state.

“I have travelled during my training but now it’s time to see out impact in economic growth,” she stressed.

She is currently completing her Postgraduate Diploma in International Shipping at DUT and is planning to further her studies; she will be in the first group to do her Master’s in Maritime Studies.

Pictured: Thabile Mpungose

Waheeda Peters

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