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My beautiful, empowering struggle by Mamodishe Motubatse

iTuesday, Jan 14th, 2014 comments by jamielee

Variety is the spice of life. A cliché, but so true and so relevant. What keeps life interesting? Challenges. “What is boring in Easy Street Town? The lack of obstacles in the way” (Lyrics from the song ‘Irony’ by Beady Belle). Challenges are the universe’s way of saying “Grow, change your character for the better, learn valuable lesson” and in my case; “Be bold, try something different.”

I’ve been excluded from my engineering studies for a second time at university. At first I thought that maybe engineering was not for me. I have read about people who took 9 years to complete their engineering studies but I never thought I would be one of those people on the ‘extended programme’. When I passed matric I had a plan. My plan was to get my Bachelor’s degree in engineering, record time. The universe had other plans. The first time I got excluded my appeal to return to my engineering studies was unsuccessful. I was not in good spirits. The engineering firm that had been sponsoring my studies since my matric year was kind enough to let me work for them for the rest of the year. At the workplace I was fortunate enough to meet Tshidi and Ntokozo who I have now adopted as my big sistersJ. They have also proved to be great role-models indeed. They, along with the other engineers at the firm, all encouraged me to resume with my engineering studies. I came to understand that the road to getting that degree would not be easy. I had a choice to make, continue with engineering or follow an alternative career. At the time Tshidi was the Treasurer of the newly assembled GirlEng Limpopo Executive team. The team was preparing for their first ever GirlEng information session. I went with Tshidi to the information session. I’m so grateful that she invited me. The speakers (as well as Tshidi –she was MC) all had inspiring stories to tell. It was exactly what I needed to here at that time. The various speaker’s messages along with the positive ambience at the information session helped me make my choice. I was to continue with my studies. I sat down and wrote another appeal in the middle of the year. This one was successful. The conditions for my return were simply that I should pass all the modules I registered for the following year. 2013 I returned to varsity. It was really stressful. I applied to become a GP GirlEng Mentor. My application was successful. GirlEng Limpopo initiated their mentoring team that year and so I was transferred to that team. At the mentoring training I met Edzani who has been a supportive friend to me ever since. My first semester went well but second semester proved to be a difficult one for me. I struggled with two modules. Unfortunately, I failed those two modules and my studies were discontinued in 2014. “Engineering is difficult, it is not for me” I decided.  “Be bold, try something different”, the universe was telling me. Since I had already decided that I will not study engineering anymore I was determined to find a new career path. I said to Edzani, “I’m thinking of taking a break from engineering.” She replied, “Hahahaha no ways. You can still do it at a university of technology. Don’t flush your dream.” Tshidi, Ntokozo, my brother (also an engineering graduate) reminded me that they too had some challenges along the way but they persevered and finished what they started. My mother has been a great pillar of strength. Her patience is remarkable. She has even told me that if I don’t find a school in time for the commencement of the 2014 academic year I can always just apply for admission to study in 2015 towards my BTech in engineering. She doesn’t want me to look back with regret. I have decided to go the BTech route, it’s more practical and I think I will enjoy it. That is the “something different” I will try. Built environment and engineering is broad and diverse. There is so much variety, engineers, technicians, technologists, quantity surveyors, architects and so much more to choose from.  As I dust myself off and soldier on, below is brief note for the GirlEngers

Dear GirlEngers

I know not all of you will decide to pursue a career in engineering and built environment. That’s fine but I have some pearls of wisdom for you, share it with your friends please. Some of you won’t have too many problems getting your degrees or diplomas in record time, but all of you will encounter obstacles in all areas of your life. That is life. We co-exist on the earth for a reason. Don’t isolate yourself in times of distress. ASK FOR HELP whenever you encounter roadblocks and detours. Many have walked a similar path as you have. Many have faced trails but came out victorious. Embrace their guidance and wisdom. Yes life is a struggle, but make it a beautiful struggle. Choose to laugh. I close off with what Tshidi said to me regarding my current situation, “We should never quit. Girl we keep pushing.”

By Mamodishe Motubatse

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