Story by: Motsieng Mooketsi
Photo by: Theko Mohanoe
Jouberton:He comes from a surviving family, and is the 4th child of his five siblings, born and raised in Jouberton. Tshepo Jerry Kgutledi is a township product that overcame the limitations of society, went out of his way….wrote his own story and turned the tide around for the Kgutledi family.
After matricuating at Are-fadimeheng High School in 2013, he sought-out to look for a job in the tough world of job-hunting, and managed to get one as a cashier at a petrol filling station. Then only 19 years old. Tshepo knew that he was young and had a bright future ahead of him, than just being a cashier at a filling station, thankfully the job was a wake up call for him.
From being a matriculant and going straight into a strenuous job, he admits it was a challenging, cause he had to adopt to working with people, and their different characters, in most cases he encountered offensive language and behaviour from customers, this only fuelled him to pursue his dream of becoming a teacher.
During 2014 as an employee, he spent the entire year planning and preparing for university whilst saving some money from his wages at work.
Before going to study teaching, he aspired to be a lawyer, but then fate had other plans for him. It just so happened that in matric, their history teacher fell ill for quite sometime, and with a better understanding of the history subject, this prompted him to assist fellow classmates.
The history lectures he gave to the class unearthed and shaped him with a skill of teaching. Unfortunately he had not applied for any tertiary institution during matric year, it was only after the matric results came out that he saw potential of applying for University, and his older siblings advised him to go and study instead of working.
Whilst working, he frequently travelled to Potchefstroom in a quest to find space at the University of North West, Potchefstroom Campus.
With the little he saved from his job, only hope gave him the courage to apply at the university, and luckily he was selected to write a selection test. “I went to write the test just after my night shift, and when i arrived at the University, i was told the test will be written at 14h00, mind you i had a 18h00 shift at night again, after the test i went back to work, and i ended up collapsing because of fatigue.
He was criticized alot by his colleagues for chosing to leave work for his studies, but! His family was supportive, and in December 2014 he resigned and left to pursue a career in teaching by January 2015.
After being accepted at North West University, he never looked back. With no bursary and a strong financial structure, Tshepo took a decision to go and chase his dream despite his circumstances. “I went to ask for help at Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality for funding and they were able to assist with the registration fee for the first year“.
Without accommodation and enough money to sustain him for basic needs, he knew he had to work very hard, and after the first term he got a bursary, and things finally started coming together for him, he majored in Social Sciences and Setswana for a Bachelors Degree in Education.
Being at university taught him survival, groomed him and he soon transformed into a responsible and independent young adult. He lived with his cousin for a year, until he applied for a residence the following year of 2016.
The resilience, hardwork, and faith that kept him focused for a four year period, finally paid off.
On 8 March 2019 he graduated as a teacher, he recalls the build-up to the ceremony, “I actually had a count down to my graduation and when the day finally arrived it was intimate, emotional and became the highlight of my life.
Before the graduation, he immediately started looking for work, and through the power social media, a facebook group of teachers, that he previously joined presented the opportunity for him, I posted my academic details on a teacher’s group on facebook and my willingness to relocate anywhere in North West, and by god’s mercy i received a response soon after that.
“Mr Collin Oliphant, the acting deputy principal of Mamoratwa Combined School in Ottosdal contacted me, and said! I’m just what they were looking for“.
Today Tshepo is a teacher at the school. He was appointed on the 8th of January 2019.
Kgutledi says for him, and the family this is a historical turning point and his proud to have become the fisrt graduate in his family.
He just recently bought a new car and something happened to him just after buying the car, he was hospitalized, and says the incident was a time for him to reflect on what he wants in life, cause like any young man he lived a reckless life before, and the hospital experience was a transitional experience he had to go through to mature again.
“I wanted to share my story with everyone to show that anything is possible if you work hard and believe in yourself, I also disagrees with the notion that things are very bad at university, my experience showed me that everything is all about the choices we make whilst at university”
Tshepo Jerry Kgutledi believes his story will be able to inspire other young people and also his own community to follow their dreams, and to never give up no matter the circumstances.