University of Free State graduate Joshwin Sampson-Pienaar's emotional Facebook post chronicling the struggles he faced -and overcame - on his journey to obtaining his degree has gone viral with more than 2 600 shares in less than 24 hours. He has given IOL permission to republish his post in full.
Read Joshwin's remarkable story:
When I started out at university in 2016, I had no financial aid whatsoever. Times were tough, and I had to solely rely on my parents to cover my registration fee, meal money and textbook money. It clearly put quite a lot of strain on them. And deep down inside, I felt awfully guilty for constantly having to bother them for money (it was the one expense after the other).
My Dad ended up losing his job. He fell ill, and unbeknownst to us, he found himself on the edge of a deep dark hole of depression. Eventually, he fell into that deep dark hole, and it arrested his whole being. Not even a speck of light could overcast the darkness that surrounded him.
I went home for the December recess owing the university more than 50k. I had no idea how my parents were gonna pay that large sum of money. It stressed us all out!
During the year I applied for many bursaries - even NSFAS, and I was rejected multiple times. I felt like I failed my parents. I mean I was a top achiever in school ... How difficult was it for me to get a scholarship? Well, I realised that I might as well just drop out of university and take my own life in the process because I felt like a complete failure. I tried, but then the Spirit of the Lord spoke to me and said, "So, do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10). It was evident that in that moment, God reminded me of His word. And I decided to trust Him in the process - even when I couldn't see anything physically manifesting ...
A week later (after the December recess), my Dad committed suicide. I was crushed. I felt betrayed by God. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't even pray. It felt as though my heart was ripped out of my chest. I was completely numb ... And in a quiet place, I once again heard the Spirit of the Lord speaking to me, and He said, "'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Once again, I picked myself up, dust myself off, and told myself, "God, when I only see in part, I will prophesy your promise."
A day after my Dad's passing, I checked my student account and saw that my debt has been paid. I was in complete shock because I knew that neither my Dad nor my Mom had paid it. And y'all know what? It was the exact amount I owed the university. For the third time the Spirit of the Lord spoke to me, and He said, "he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is" (2 Timothy 2:13). That's when I broke down and just started worshipping Jesus with every bit of breath in my lungs.
Two months later, I found out I got a scholarship which I didn't even apply for. It was just awarded to me based on my great results (I got distinctions for 60% of modules in my first-year) and leadership qualities. I ended up having the scholarship until my final year. Overall, I graduated with 15 distinctions (almost Cum Laude), and I'm currently enrolled for an Honours degree in Media Studies and Journalism.
Today, I wish my Dad was here to celebrate this achievement with me. He would've been so proud; hence, I dedicate it to him. I miss you Dad and I love you so much. This just the first step to greatness. More barriers will be broken. Watch this space.