Inspirational UJ alumni recall how their education has made a difference in their careers

At the start of a new year, many graduating students are looking forward to starting new lives and jobs and applying the knowledge and skills they gained at UJ.

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) alumni in collaboration with the UJ Library, hosted a motivational dinner on Thursday, 25 January 2018, at Auckland Park Kingsway Campus to celebrate UJ alumni who have overcome life challenges or achieved in their professional and personal lives, and who have been an inspiration to the community. The theme for the occasion was “Against All Odds“.

Looking back on their student years, two University of Johannesburg (UJ) alumni — a personal development speaker and a motivational speaker —shared their thoughts on what their education has meant to them.

“We are always proud of our alumni who contribute to a better society and support the growth of our beautiful country, said Ms Karen Coetzee, Senior Manager: UJ Development and Alumni.

The MC for the event was the entertaining, Celeste Ntuli; while Itumeleng Sekhu, a woman who was horrifically burned explained how as a little girl she had to overcome her injuries, bullying and insecurity about her looks to find happiness and love.

Fortunately, even in all her trials she had always managed to excel in her studies, attaining good marks and claiming countless academic awards.

“Disability means being unable to do something but I can do everything myself. If you don’t deal with your wounds, you will never reach full potential,” said Itumeleng.

Itumeleng has most certainly grown to become a confident young woman who, from having accepted her accident, learnt to live her life with great purpose. On a regular basis, she goes around encouraging young people to look past the negative circumstances that they might have undergone, further building them up and helping them improve their self-esteem.

Also speaking at the event was a seasoned marketing strategist, personal development speaker and entrepreneur, Zanele Modiba who had the audience captivated by sharing a few worthwhile points.

“When you remove yourself from the realm of competition, to a space of feeling and practising compassion for others – amazing things start coming into existence for you.”

“The way to excellence, is becoming you. So stop being afraid- nobody wakes up a success, it’s your job to get there.”

“Don’t ever find yourself in a work environment where you are a big fish in a small pond.”

Zanele was pretty much an all-rounder at school. She was head prefect, top debater and public speaker, president of the Edmond Rice Society (which provides enrichment programmes for underprivileged children), and she was voted SRC president at the University of Johannesburg. She was headhunted for her first job straight out of varsity, was selected as part of the Brightest Young Minds in 2003 and became the joint winner of South Africa’s Apprentice.

There was not a single individual in the room who did not receive some form of awakening during Itumeleng’s and Zanele’s talk.

Alumni Uj 1
UJ Alumni attending the motivational dinner

Alumni Uj 2
UJ Alumni attending the motivational dinner


Karen Coetzee
Ms Karen Coetzee, Senior Manager:
UJ Development and Alumni


Alumni Uj
From Left to Right: Ms Moipone Qhomane-Goliath, Acting Executive Director: Library and Information Centre, Ms Celeste Ntuli, Comedian and Itumeleng Sekhu, media personality, author and motivational speaker.
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