Meluleki Thethwayo who is visually impaired graduated with a Masters Degree in Physiotherapy on Wednesday. Picture: Supplied
Meluleki Thethwayo who is visually impaired graduated with a Masters Degree in Physiotherapy on Wednesday. Picture: Supplied

Visually impaired student graduates cum laude at UKZN

By Nokuthula Mabuza Time of article published Nov 25, 2021

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DURBAN - “I WORKED so hard to pass, but I didn’t expect to get cum laude. I am speechless.”

These were the words of Meluleki Thethwayo, who completed his Master’s degree in physiotherapy at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

The 24-year-old, originally from Mtubatuba, was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a rare, inherited eye disease that could lead to blindness after his Grade 2 teacher detected that he had vision problems in 2004.

Against all odds, Thethwayo completed his matric at Masibonisane High School in 2014. The following year, he enrolled for a bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy at UKZN. He graduated in 2019. Later that year, he was employed as a physiotherapist at the Ngwelezana Hospital in Empangeni.

Thethwayo said his life had been a difficult journey personally and academically.

Meluleki Thethwayo who is visually impaired graduated with a Masters Degree in Physiotherapy on Wednesday. Picture: Supplied

“It hasn’t been easy, till today. I still face a lot of challenges, and I encountered a lot of bad days, crying myself to sleep,” he said.

“I was at work when my physiotherapy lecturer, Dr Maddocks, called to inform and congratulate me on achieving my Master’s degree cum laude. I was shocked. I didn’t expect it.” He encouraged others with difficulties or disabilities to show their capabilities.

“Do not let any situation rule you because you would cry for the rest of your life. You must be determined, although bad days will come, and you will cry. After that, you have to be able to motivate yourself.

“I would like to thank my family, lecturers, church and my best friend, Ntokozo Nxele, for their support, especially my mother (Thobile), who has been my number one supporter,” he added.

Thethwayo graduated virtually on Wednesday. He hopes to become a physiotherapy lecturer at UKZN in future and plans to enrol for his PHD next year.

Daily News

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