SPMA graduate triumphs over ill health

Posted on June 08, 2020

When the University of Pretoria hosted a virtual graduation ceremony in April 2020, among the students marking the successful conclusion of their studies was Serrah Vilane. She is an alumna who completed her Master’s degree in Public Administration at the School of Public Management and Administration (SPMA).

The recently appointed municipal manager of the Midvaal Local Municipality recalls: “This journey has taught me about the strength of the human spirit and that, when opportunity meets preparation, success is inevitable.”

Ten years after completing her first qualification from the Tshwane University of Technology, she decided to resume her studies by enrolling for the BAdmin Public Administration Option at the University of Pretoria. Despite a hectic work schedule as a senior government official, being a mother and a wife, she managed to complete the programme in the allocated time with distinction.

She then went on to enrol for a postgraduate programme with the University of Stellenbosch in 2017, which she also completed cum laude in the minimum time, despite being in and out of hospital for the better part of the academic year.

In 2018 she enrolled for a MPA at the University of Pretoria, where coincidentally, her research supervisor was the first lecturer she met when she first went back to university in 2014.  

“The journey was not easy,” she says. “However, I was committed and did not want to let myself down.” Unfortunately, her ill health threatened her progress, as she spent the better part of 2019 in hospital diagnosed with autoimmune disease. She credits the support received from family, friends, her supervisor and SPMA administration staff for assisting her in meeting her milestones.

She admits that “there were times when meeting those deadlines meant risking her health” Many other times her submissions were made in tears, from a hospital bed. Despite the challenges she faced, she managed to complete the programme in the allocated time. She is applying for a PhD and plans to enrol in 2021.  


- Author School of Public Management and Administration
Published by Liesl Oosthuizen

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