40-Year-Old SA Woman Graduates From Same College Where She Cleaned For 14 Years



Sthembile Mngwengwe, a 40-year-old woman from South Africa, has earned her Bachelor’s degree in Social Science from the same university where she worked as a cleaner for 14 years.

Sthembile has always wanted to continue her studies after graduating high school in 1998. Sadly, her parents could not afford to send her to college at that time.


In 2018, after nearly a decade of working as a cleaner at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, she grabbed the opportunity to study there for free. But having been out of school for nearly 20 years, she admitted it was not easy.

“Balancing work and studies gave me a lot of stress,” she told News24. “But if you work hard and pray to God, He will help you to achieve what you want.”

Indeed, Sthembile used her good time management to juggle work and studies. She said working at the university and seeing the professors’ offices she often cleaned inspired her to pursue higher education.

“I was motivated by being on campus too, seeing students walking up and down going to their lecture theatres to attend classes made me wish to be them,” she said.

Moreover, she was also kept motivated by her daughter and colleagues who supported her along the way. She hopes to also inspire others to pursue their dreams even though it seemed impossible at first.

“No matter how old you are you can still fulfill your dreams,” she said. “Age is just a number — look at me completing my first degree at the age of 40. It’s a blessing and I’m so proud of myself.”


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