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I Am UWC: Adult Education Student Lucia Matshoba - Age Can't Limit Dreams

Author: Khanyisile Brukwe

Lucia Matshoba started high school at the age of 39 - but she’s making up for lost time, as one of the top students honoured at the 2018 Faculty of Education Dean’s Merit Awards.

I Am UWC: Adult Education Student Lucia Matshoba - Age Can't Limit Dreams

Putting a child through university can be financially challenging - but supporting a parent studying at a tertiary institution is a different ball game altogether. Luyanda Clara Matshoba, 29, is the main breadwinner in her family while her mother, Lucia Sifundo Matshoba, pursues a Diploma in Adult Education at the University of the Western Cape (UWC).

Lucia is proof that age is no limit to what one can achieve: she started high school at 39 and is now one of the University’s top education students.

“Studying and getting an education and qualification have always been dreams of mine,” said Lucia, who is 49. “These dreams have helped me to push myself despite the challenges I have faced along the way.”

Lucia was one of the students awarded a certificate at UWC’s Faculty of Education Dean’s Merit Awards on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 - the only one in her class honoured for excelling in her studies. When not studying, Lucia works part-time as an administrator at a sports betting shop and sells Tupperware in order to make ends meet.

Luyanda, who studied Financial Management at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, understands the importance of education. However, she admits that at times, keeping things afloat while her mother is studying can be challenging.

“Nothing - not hunger, age or illness - could or should stop my mother from achieving her dreams and goals,” Luyanda said. “Achieving the Merit Award is a well-deserved reflection of all her efforts and sacrifices, and I’m proud of her.”

Lucia was born in White City, Soweto and grew up in Langa on the Cape Flats.

At the age of 16 she made the difficult decision to quit her schooling to care for her siblings. She got married soon thereafter and found herself with her own family to support. Things got harder when her husband died and she needed a stable job. For that to happen, however, she needed an education.

She is now in her second year and hopes to become an adult educator, or a researcher in adult studies. “Becoming an adult educator would allow me to help those who, for whatever reason, could not study in their youth to achieve their qualifications, and the success that goes with that,” she explained.

The Merit Award came as a bit of a shock to Lucia because her first year of studying wasn’t easy due to being diagnosed with an underactive thyroid. There were times when she could not attend classes, and it was difficult for her to concentrate.

“I am extremely happy that I have received this award,” she said. “It shows that my hard work paid off, and that anything is possible.”

Lucia’s mother, who she considers a true role model, never had the opportunity to receive tertiary education. She had been a domestic worker all her life, but this never discouraged her from urging her children to excel at school. She also instilled a culture of reading in her home.

“My mother went as far as subscribing to Readers Digest when we were growing up, and it was through this subscription that my love for reading was fuelled. And it has just kept growing ever since,” said Lucia.

Lucia also loves gardening and has a small patch of land in her backyard where she grows vegetables.

She is preparing for her upcoming mid-year exams and aims to achieve high marks and to continue excelling in the second semester as well.

With the support Lucia has received from her classmates and UWC staff, and especially from her daughter, it’s a safe bet that she will indeed achieve her goal.

“Success, for me, is doing something that one loves - so I’ll truly be successful once I achieve my five-year goal of becoming an educator. I just cannot wait to help other adults like me achieve their dreams in learning.” ​

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