Struggles, sleepless nights and early lectures worth it for student who graduated cum laude, obtained Dean’s Merit Award

Top achiever, Mlamuli Sabela with his mother, Makhosazane Sabela-Mkhungo, and grandmother at graduation. Picture: Khulasande Tshayile.

Top achiever, Mlamuli Sabela with his mother, Makhosazane Sabela-Mkhungo, and grandmother at graduation. Picture: Khulasande Tshayile.

Published Sep 19, 2023


Durban — A mother’s first-born son made her proud after he obtained a Dean’s Merit Award for academic excellence at the Durban University of Technology (DUT).

Mlamuli Sabela, 22, from Mandawe in Scottburgh, South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, made his mother, Makhosazane Sabela-Mkhungo, 41, proud when he graduated cum laude and obtained the prestigious Dean’s Merit Award for his Diploma in Analytical Chemistry at the DUT 2023 Spring Graduation opening ceremony on Monday morning, September 18, 2023.

Sabela was ecstatic to be honoured for his academic excellence as he felt that all the struggles, sleepless nights and early lectures were worth it.

“A new chapter has been opened. No one knows how hard I worked and prayed for this achievement, now I’m proud to be the star of the show I created. This encourages me to continue working hard since my hard work is finally paying off,” Sabela said.

He believes that coming from a disadvantaged background was what pushed him to work hard and dream big.

Speaking about his career choice, Sabela said studying Analytical Chemistry at DUT was exhilarating and magnificent because he got a chance to do in-service training to see how chemistry operates in the actual world.

“This programme taught us some of the basic skills of life every student needs such as time management, critical thinking and decision making. My journey has been fortunate enough to have full support from the Chemistry Department lecturers, especially during preparation of exams. I am grateful to Dr P. Ntola for assisting us in finding in-service training in companies because this is the most stressful and draining stage in completing the course since in some varsities students spend full two years at home seeking in-service spaces,” Sabela said.

He added that one of the challenges he faced during his studies was adapting to online lectures and he missed most of them due to poor network connection in his hometown.

Sabela also indicated that he had to read all the slides alone during the day and had to stay up late at night to download the recordings of his classes. Sabela kept his academic excellence a secret from his family as he wanted to surprise them with graduation.

Back home Sabela dedicates his time to mentoring grade 12 pupils to help them prepare for university. His dream is to see the youth from his community furthering their studies and becoming the change that is needed to alleviate poverty.

“I believe to every disadvantage there is a corresponding advantage. During holidays, I prefer to participate in voluntary activities such as teaching matriculants in my leisure time, this helps me to enhance and strengthen their skills such as communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, public speaking, and personal growth,” Sabela said.

His mother, Sabela-Mkhungo, said she was very proud when she heard her son’s name being called on stage and being applauded for his hard work.

“I am so proud of him. He is a good example to his two younger siblings. His younger brother is in his second year at DUT and he has now challenged him to also do well in his studies. I wish him all the best and may he continue shining and leading by example,” Sabela-Mkhungo said.

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