The University of Pretoria’s (UP) current Student Representative Council (SRC) president, Thuto Mashile, and former SRC president Lerato Ndlovu have graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in Political Science, respectively.
When asked what advice she would give to other students working towards their degrees, Mashile said: “Attend classes, keep a schedule, and make sure your assignments are done at least a day before the due date. Don’t just be a student, get your qualification then gmaso; use this space to grow yourself. Don’t be afraid to go into certain spaces because you think they are reserved for certain people only. Break the barriers.”
For Mashile, graduating is a significant accomplishment. “Graduating, to me, means it’s possible, black girl child, it’s possible. It means a lot to me because a lot of black students don’t reach the finish line. Despite all the barriers, I’ve managed to come out victorious,” she said.
Mashile was elected SRC president late last year. Speaking about what she learnt while serving on the SRC she said: “Being part of the SRC is very demanding and time-consuming, therefore, I am learning how to manage my time more effectively.” Mashile also said serving on the SRC is advancing her critical thinking skills and improving her problem-solving skills.”
Current Student Representative Council (SRC) president Thuto Mashile (left) graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science while former SRC president Lerato Ndlovu (right) graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in Political Science.
Mashile’s predecessor, Lerato Ndlovu, is no stranger to breaking barriers at UP as she was elected the first black female president, serving on the SRC in 2021.
Reflecting on her time serving on the SRC, Ndlovu recalls the position as having both positive and negative effects. “The position affects you both mentally and practically, for lack of a better term. Practically, it eats away at your time to spend on your studies. Mentally, when you are busy with your studies, there is always a student matter that occupies your mind.”
“However, as a student of the social sciences I do recognise some positive effects the position has had on my studies. It has given depth to my theoretical understanding. With university being a microcosm of society at large, being SRC president has not only expanded my understanding of society but, furthermore, it has challenged the way I look at problem-solving and structuring my arguments,” she said.
And what does graduating mean to her? “More possible opportunities and open doors. Being able to reach places those who came before me could only imagine. If I could graduate in record time at UP, it means I am capable of more. The years of pain and sweat finally paying off. But it is also an unfortunate reminder that we need to be more innovative and robust in fighting against the high unemployment rate in our country.”
Giving advice to students pursuing their academic dreams, Ndlovu urged them not to neglect their mental health. “Stay alive while chasing the finish line. It’s never worth your life. Breathe, you can be delayed, but you can always get back up.”
Read more #UPGraduation2022 stories