UJ Tourism graduate Kgotlelelo Mahlangu boosted by foster care

Kgotlelelo Mahlangu’s perseverance to earn a University degree is a triumph that’s inspiring young single moms everywhere.

The 22-year old graduate overcame numerous challenges to earn her BA Tourism Development degree from the University of Johannesburg (UJ), on Thursday, 20 April 2017.

“My greatest joy has always been my education,” she said.

Although born into difficult circumstances, Ms Mahlangu held fast to her academic goals. She lived in an impoverished home, but did everything to stay focused on her studies.

Unlike her peers, her University years were not spent just worrying about grades, looking for a job and making lasting memories with friends. Mahlangu spent the majority of her junior and senior years taking care of her now six year-old daughter.

Mahlangu entered the foster care system at 10 years old and fell pregnant at 16. She registered with Children of the Dawn Children’s Orphanage home, which provides a range of assistance to the poor.

“Teenage motherhood added another layer of challenges. Being a young mother forces you to grow up and mature and to see how the real world is instead of seeing it through the eyes of a naive university student,” said Mahlangu. “You have to be a mother, student, daughter, twenty-four seven.”

Ms Mahlangu had support along the way from the Community Support program’s Project Manager, Ms Magali Malherbe.

She explained how instrumental that support was to her success:

“Since I was born into a disadvantaged family of eight children, my unemployed mother was unable to feed us. Through Children of the Dawn in Bushbuckridge where I grew up, every day I received food parcels and a fortified mealie meal taken for health boosting through vitamins and nutrients. I was also offered Life skills education training in 2011 that introduced me to the UJ School of Tourism and Hospitality and that’s when I received motivation.”

With her degree in hand, Ms Mahlangu plans “to infiltrate the foster care system,” she said.

Her goal is to sponsor a child and work with girls in foster care by building their self-esteem and enabling them to live successful lives.

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