File photo: Throughout his high school career, he said, he always managed to perform extremely well academically, despite many of his community and both of his parents being illiterate.
Pretoria - He prayed for God to reveal his “unique” gift on realising he could not dance or sing like his peers. But Thapelo Lebese now stands proudly ahead of the rest, having amazingly graduated with 28 distinctions out of 30 modules.

Lebese, 21, originally from Ga-Motla in the North West, has graduated cum laude with a national diploma in internal auditing from the Tshwane University of Technology. He was also awarded the Chancellor’s Medal for outstanding academic performance.

Lebese said growing up, he used to be envious of his peers who were often heralded for being able to either sing or dance. He would regularly ask God to show him what his talents were.

Throughout his high school career, he said, he always managed to perform extremely well academically, despite many of his community and both of his parents being illiterate.

“Where I come from a lot of people are not educated. My parents couldn’t finish primary school and have struggled because of being uneducated. And because they couldn’t get minimum schooling, I had to obtain the highest qualifications possible,” Lebese said.

He initially wanted to further his studies in accounting, but took a chance on internal auditing due to lack of space in that field.

From the moment he entered his first class, he fell in love with it and has never looked back – even in the midst of a financial problem.

“Varsity life can be difficult,because of peer pressure and trends. Young people want to fit in, often forgetting where they come from. This can result in them doing the wrong things, which negatively affect their academic performance,” he said.

“I appreciate what I have and made peace with what I don’t have. The one thing I can say to fellow students who have ever experienced difficulty is to always remember why they came to university; they should work hard to graduate in record time.”

As the eldest of four siblings, he said he was motivated to work hard to set an example to them and make their parents proud. Lebese is a passionate academic.

He said because of the great support from his family and lecturers, he knew he would nail it, but he didn’t expect to pass cum laude (with distinction).

Lebese, who is now pursuing a B-Tech in internal auditing, said while many students complained about the course being difficult, his passion and dedication helped him prevail.

He has taken up the leadership baton as the president of the Internal Audit Student Association and as a tutor for financial accounting.

“My brilliant mentor, Joseph Matlhwale, played an important role in helping me to overcome my loneliness and start interacting with other people and participating in extra-curricular activities. I came to university an introvert and didn’t want to enter any programmes. “I just wanted to focus on my studies, but being introvert affected me negatively; I was an academic giant and social dwarf. In my second year, I became a mentor, which helped me to grow immensely. Assisting other students also helped me to be more focused and master my studies,” he said.

His future plans include joining a top auditing firm, obtaining at least a doctorate degree and becoming a lecturer.

Pretoria News