A 62 year old photocopier operator at the Department of Health’s Capricorn region office and former cleaner at Rethabile Clinic, Wesselina Jacoba ‘Lethabo’ la Grange is determined to complete a degree after she successfully completed a National Diploma in Public Administration Level 6 and was bestowed with a special award for being the most dedicated, vibrant and fully participant student in her phase during Salitig Training College graduation ceremony at Jack Botes Hall recently.
Lethabo, as she is popularly known, told Polokwane Observer that she had completed the six month course in a period of three months, was the only person of colour and the oldest among more than 4 000 graduates. She explained that other candidates started the course in June last year but she only started in September due to ill health yet managed to catch up and complete all the assignments before those who started earlier. She said she was honoured and delighted to receive the award and further divulged that she passed the course with distinction and won’t rest until she acquires a degree.
She could not hide her joys and she repeatedly read what is written on the award: “One of the qualities of a leader and an achiever in every arena of life is the commitment to personal and professional development. Excellent leaders go out of their way to improve the life circumstances of communities. When people believe in themselves, it is amazing what can be accomplished, working together. The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values.”
She said studying at her age was not easy but she is delighted that she managed to make it against all odds. “I have been a public servant for many decades but my efforts were not appreciated that is why I opted to go back to school hoping that someone will notice my potential and offer me a better job,” she stated and added that her son Christopher supported her throughout the duration of the course and thanked him for inspiring her.
She emphasised that she is now more determined to study for as many courses as possible and urged the youth to follow in her footsteps and study as hard as possible. “Young people should believe in God and work hard to achieve their goals. I managed to complete the course because of the grace of God,” she explained and thanked the college and everyone who supported and believed in her.
Lethabo has been active in politics since a young age, a true football supporter for three teams being Rea Stars, Real Rovers, and Silver Stars Football Clubs and she also featured in Sepedi television drama ‘Ke bona boloi’ simply translated as ‘I see witchcraft’ and a radio drama Soul City 3. She stated that she has been a member of the African National Congress (ANC) since her teenage years but joined the Democratic Alliance (DA) in 2014 after the ANC allegedly failed to build her an RDP house she applied for in 2002. Lethabo who has been a Seshego resident for over 25 years hopes to secure a better job upon completion of her degree and reiterated that commitment, perseverance, dedication and self-belief are fundamental tools to success.
Story and photo: ENDY SENYATSI