Ntebogang Segone will be dedicating his Bachelor of Science degree to his mother.
Having six siblings looking up to him and a supportive single mother spurred Ntebogang Segone to persevere with his studies.

Today the Northern Cape-born student graduates at UCT on the Dean’s Merit List in recognition of constant academic excellence with a Bachelor of Science.

He has dedicated all his achievements to his mother, Lettie.

Segone’s family have been preparing for this day since January 2017.

He is the family’s first university graduate.

About six family members including his mother will join the celebrations.

He said while he would like to study further, he planned to enter the workplace as soon as he graduates again in a year’s time.

Segone has started his Honours degree in public administration and policy.

“I’m black, at the end of the day. As a black individual, you need to understand that you are here at the university to get a better job so you can provide for your family.

“I would love to study further, but in reality, as a poor person, I just don’t have the luxury,” Segone said.

Although Segone grew up in Kimberley in a community with no electricity, three communal taps shared between 45 shacks, and whose mother was a domestic worker who single-handedly raised seven children, he said: “One could say that I lived a very poor life, but for me I lived a good and happy life.”

At school Segone thrived, particularly in maths, for which he received a distinction in matric. His results ensured him a place at UCT but he struggled to secure funding for tuition, accommodation and food.

Segone also battled with accommodation like many students, and the cheapest off-campus accommodation was R3000 a month, which was R600 more than his mother’s monthly salary.

Luckily he was placed in Kilindini Residence before the start of the term.

The student was faced with many challenges, including being academically excluded in his first year. This was due to the pressure of being rushed to choose a second major course with little understanding of how the university functioned and its support structures.

Segone’s application for readmission was unsuccessful and after explaining his situation to the relevant academics, he was reinstated on a probationary basis.

He changed his academic programme, swopping his second major, physics, for a politics and governance major.

Outside of academics, he served as co-chair of the Institution Forum and successfully ran for the Students’ Representative Council. During their tenure, the SRC helped raise over R2million for students in financial difficulty.

Segone finished the probation period with an 80% average, attended two international leadership programmes, was elected president of the Black Management Forum, and finished the academic year with a 70% average.