Woman, 25, Makes History at NWU As University's Youngest PhD Graduate

Woman, 25, Makes History at NWU As University's Youngest PhD Graduate

  • A local woman has just secured her place in the history books as North-West University's youngest-ever PhD graduate in the law faculty
  • Dr Nicolene Steyn overcame an anxiety disorder and the unfortunate death of her father to obtain the achievement at just 25-years-old
  • Steyn thanked her family and community for their support

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A North West woman has just made history as NWU's youngest ever PhD graduate in the law faculty. Dr Nicolene Steyn overcame an anxiety disorder, financial hardships and the untimely death of her father to obtain her qualification at just 25-years old.

Woman, 25, Makes History, NWU, Youngest PhD Graduate
This woman is NWU's youngest-ever PhD candidate in the law faculty. Image: NWU Faculty of Law/Facebook
Source: Facebook

Heading online, NWU Faculty of Law shared the groundbreaking news on their official Facebook page. Steyn impressively completed her qualification within just two years of study, an unprecedented achievement as reported by IOL.

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But, the road has not always been easy for the young woman who grew up in under-developed parts of Zeerust in the North West. Growing up poor, Steyn found joy in excelling academically and comfort in the love and support of her family.

Speaking with The Sunday Times, Steyn shared:

“My family, which comprised my father, mother, and two older brothers, was very poor. My father, the sole breadwinner and a retired mechanic was a ‘recycling entrepreneur’, a fairly rare trade at the time.
“From a young age I realised I wanted to make a difference for my family. I believed that pursuing an education may one day offer me opportunities to do that."

With her high marks and excellent work ethic, university bursaries were almost inevitable for a young Steyn. However, life got a little more challenging around her 21st birthday when her father died:

“My life changed forever. I no longer had my father, whose love I had relied on heavily throughout my life. We held his funeral on the Monday following his death the previous Thursday, and I returned to university early on the Tuesday morning. There was no time for mourning. I still had to do my best and my best was all I felt I had left.

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The determined student endured and ultimately went on to achieve her PhD.

Today, Steyn works as a lecturer and often develops research articles for popular publications.

Never forgetting her roots, the academic shared that she will always be grateful to the people of Zeerust who have cheered her on along the way. She's also thanked her sponsors and sent a special thank you to her beautiful family back home.

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God's time: Man who spent 22 years in primary school finally gets degree

Meanwhile, Briefly News previously reported that Martin Nyamlori's academic journey that began in 1989 culminated in a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy and Administration from Kenyatta University on Friday, July 24.

Nyamlori's story is one of resilience and determination; he sat for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) national exams for a record nine times and had spent 22 years in different primary schools.

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Speaking to Briefly News, the 38-year-old man, who was on Friday, July 23, conferred the power to read, said it was a miracle that he had finally graduated after more than three decades traversing the 8.4.4 curriculum.

"I am the happiest person on earth because the journey that started in 1989 ended on Friday. It is indeed a miracle," he said on Sunday, July 24.

Nyamlori, who now hopes to get into formal employment and reap the rewards of his hard work, said evading poverty remained his greatest motivation in all those years that he moved from one primary school to another majorly due to financial constraints.

"Poverty in my home was too much. We were the poorest in the village. Living in a grass thatched house. Getting daily meals was next to impossible," the degree-holder narrated.

Nyamlori first sat for the national exams in 1998 at Kipsimbol Primary School where he scored 478 marks. He received admission to Kabianga Secondary School but could not join the school due to financial problems.

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In 1999, he was back to Standard Eight at Rongo Primary School where he scored 559 marks and got an admission letter to Kanga High School.

But this time, things were a bit better as his aunt gave him a helping hand but it was short-lived. In his second term, he dropped from Kanga because his aunt stopped financing his education.

Nyamlori was out of school for two years, working as a casual labourer at a milling factory in Nairobi, before deciding to give education another shot.

In 2002, he joined Kitere Primary School, where he scored 387 marks and received an admission letter to Rapogi High School but no one was willing to finance his education.

In 2003, he enrolled at Sony Sugar Primary scoring 399 marks and was called to Rapogi School; in 2004 he was in Rangwe Junior Academy scoring 434 marks and was admitted to Maseno High school but dropped in the second term.

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In 2010 in Agape academy Kosele, he scored 401 marks and was re-admitted to Maranda high.

In 2011, from Oriri Primary Nyamlori scored 403 marks and got his admission letter to Nairobi School where Equity Bank through the Wings to fly scholarship program, sponsored his secondary education.

In 2015, he sat for his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education and scored a B+ of 71 points.

After completion of KCSE, his sponsorship was over but he was admitted to Kenyatta University where he pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Policy and Administration.

He now has a reason to smile after completing his undergraduate studies and is appealing to any employer to give him a job as he seeks to now step into a new chapter.

"My plan for the future is to now give back to the community. I will start with employment and build my way up," the 38-year-old said.

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Source: Briefly News

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