Perseverance leads to UJ international student graduating, cum laude

Once academically-excluded in her first year of studies at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), adjusting to university life was a huge challenge for 24-year-old Congolese student, Grace Hélogie Bingoto-Mandoko.

Ms Bingoto-Mandoko, a Master’s student and Politics tutor, received her BA Honours degree at the second series of UJ graduation ceremonies in the Faculty of Humanities on Monday, 1 June 2015.

She was one of the nearly 52 Politics and International Relations students who graduated with honours.

‘Graduating cum laude certainly means a lot to me.” She continued, “It shows how hard work, patience and time management pays off. It also demonstrates that it doesn’t matter what background one comes from. If one puts one’s mind to it, one can always make it.”

“I was shattered when I was academically excluded. I was determined to succeed and set realistic goals. The University’s First Year Experience Programme (FYE), a support programme that help ease the school-to-university transition, assisted me with my academic activities and reinforced my willpower to excel,” said Ms Bingoto-Mandoko, acknowledging the strenuous five years.

In 2013, her determination and enthusiasm to assist other students to succeed led her to become a student tutor. She acts as an interface between students and teaching staff, and is also the current Chairperson of the Congolese Society at UJ.

Funding was also an issue coming from a family in which her mother was the only breadwinner after her father passed away. She attributes her mother’s faith and support as vital for where she is today.

The young lady aspires to become a professor and lecturer in politics in order to change the future. “If I can help train ten good politicians per year, then there is hope for the next generation to do better than the previous one,” she said.

She described her journey at the institution as a journey of growth and self-discovery. “Living in the student-residence, Lebone, and being an active student through various societies facilitated my integration,” she elaborated. Adding that the education system is tailored to cater to the need of a certain population, of which she often felt excluded.

Her research entitled, The impact of Eurocentric discourse on the resolution of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is aimed at generating the conversation around how society views African conflict resolution in Africa and why it views it in that manner. ​

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