“When you focus on the good, the good gets better”- Abraham Hicks

by Babalwa Yekelo 

I’m from Keiskammahoek, a disadvantaged neighborhood in the Eastern Cape. However, I was fortunate enough to be raised by a mother who valued education and worked really hard to ensure that I had the education I desired, despite the fact that she never had a stable career. I was determined to work hard and make a name for myself in science by being innovative and developing therapeutics for chronic diseases like tuberculosis, cancer, hypertension, and all the other diseases I have seen people in my neighborhood suffer from due to a lack of affordable and effective treatments. Throughout my undergraduate education, I gave it my all to thrive in my studies. I showed good competence because my ultimate goal was to join the University of Cape Town, an institution that is at the forefront of Africa providing world-class research expertise.

I was delighted when I was granted the opportunity to pursue my honors degree at this reputable university. Transitioning from my former university, where I was not exposed to some of the resources, to UCT, however, took a toll on my academic theory. I was challenged to read research articles to broaden my knowledge and also improve my presentation skills.  I’m grateful that, no matter what obstacles I experienced in my modules, my lecturers, co-supervisor and classmates are always willing to help. My colleagues also made me feel confident in my work because they were always open to learn from me. I never felt insignificant or out of place. I am also overjoyed that my laboratory skills are uplifting; I am learning techniques that are relevant into achieving my initial goal, which is to develop therapeutic agents for chronic illnesses. My supervisor, Dr. Hlumani Ndlovu, deserves special recognition for his assistance in locating funds, ensuring that I am established in my new residence and assisting me with my project.

I appreciate how, in our faculty, there is always someone willing to help, whether it is with academics or personal concerns; the spirit of Ubuntu still exists. As uncomfortable as change and growth are, I am grateful to be doing my honors at this university; it has been an incredible experience thus far, and I am looking forward to the next semester. I hope I will be granted the opportunity to study further here. 

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