The magnificent seven: meet the Eersterust family of UP graduates
When Winston Campbell matriculated in 1965, the coloured community was still barred from studying at whites-only institutions such as the University of Pretoria (UP).
“I was allowed to register at UP much later and grabbed the opportunity with both hands because the university offered classes after hours,” says the father of five who graduated in 1991 with a BA Hons degree in Politics and International Politics. “It was a most rewarding experience.”
His wife, Colleen, started studying late in life because of family responsibilities and financial constraints, and obtained a BA from UP in Industrial Psychology and Public/Municipal Administration in 2002.
Colleen ensured that each and every family member did their schoolwork and saw to it that they performed well when they went to varsity – with the result that the couple as well as all five of their children are UP graduates: Alarice obtained a degree in Nursing and Midwifery (1990 and 1994); Julian graduated with a BCom Hons degree in Finance (2003); Raymond obtained his MBChB and MMed in Urology (1999-2007); and Andrea and Colwin both completed their LLB degrees at UP, in 2008 and 2011 respectively.
For the Campbell family, who come from Eersterust in Tshwane, UP was the natural choice. “The qualifications attained at the university have been a game-changer for us,” says Colleen. “A qualification from UP is a very good job magnet, as the institution is viewed by many as one of the top universities in Africa. Completing our studies at UP contributed immensely to the professional and personal successes of our family.”
Yet while they have all made major academic headway, the family is acutely aware that there are many gifted youth in Eersterust who should be studying at UP, and that because they are under-represented at the university, they lack representation in the workplace too.
Financial obstacles as well as societal factors – such as poverty, substance abuse, indifference of parents and educators, lack of exemplary role models, and social and racial engineering policies – often hamper the academic potential and progress of these young people.
“As parents, we believe that you must teach your children well,” says Winston. “Teach them to treat others with dignity and respect. We feel truly blessed that our children have learned the value and ethical precepts of a good education – to play fair and to work honestly, hard and diligently. Most of these principles have been instilled in us by UP, indisputably one of the best institutions of higher learning in Africa.”