UCT Law Graduate With Chronic Lung Condition Reflects on Nearly 10-Year Journey to Success, Academic Exclusion

UCT Law Graduate With Chronic Lung Condition Reflects on Nearly 10-Year Journey to Success, Academic Exclusion

  • A beautiful young woman in Cape Town is incredibly emotional after finally graduating as a lawyer from UCT after close to 10 years of struggling
  • Sithabile Kuuya suffers from a chronic lung infection that impacts her quality of life and led to her facing several setbacks along her journey
  • After facing university exclusion, the 28-year-old finally bagged her degree and wants to inspire other young people to never give up on their dreams

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A stunning Cape Town resident is over the moon after finally obtaining her Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the University of Cape Town (UCT) after battling a rocky academic road for nearly 10 years.

UCT law graduate with vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng
Sithabile Kuuya is overjoyed after finally graduating with her Bachelor of Laws after a long academic battle. Image: Sithabile Kuuya/Supplied and Madeline Madeline/Facebook.
Source: UGC

Sithabile Kuuya, who is originally from Johannesburg, suffers from a chronic lung infection that has significantly impacted her quality of life and leaves her feeling tired a lot of the time.

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While the stunner has always been an academically gifted student, after catching a superbug, she became extremely ill. This drastically impacted the trajectory of her studies and led to her facing university exclusion a couple of times.

Speaking to Briefly News, the young woman opens up about her long journey to graduation, her future plans and how she hopes to inspire other students who are facing difficulties on the road to academic success.

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Battling with a chronic lung condition while growing up with a single mom

Sithabile was raised by a single mother, which was a challenge in itself because of the financial difficulties they faced, with the young woman needing special medical care and treatment for her condition:

“My mom tried to do the best that she could, but it was hard for her because she didn’t have help. So, there was a lot of instability in my upbringing because I changed primary schools several times and was in state care [for my health].

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"With a chronic illness like the one I have, it is very expensive to get the care that you need, not only in terms of doctors, but just daily care.”

The perseverant babe prefers not to disclose the exact name of the condition she has but explains that the illness affects the ability of her lungs to get oxygen and leaves her constantly fatigued and easily susceptible to chest infections:

“I attended Greenside High School in Johannesburg. When I started my matric year in 2012, the doctors told me that I should drop out of school and focus on getting myself on a donor list to get a lung transplant, because they told me if I didn’t get a donor, I would not make it to the next year.”

But somehow, because of her natural academic aptitude, Sithabile defied the odds and managed to pass matric with flying colours, landing herself a spot at UCT, which was always her dream.

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UCT law graduate excited for the future
The future looks bright for UCT law graduate, Sithabile Kuuya. Image: Sithabile Kuuya/Supplied.
Source: UGC

From being a top student at UCT to facing academic exclusion

Sithabile was excluded from UCT on more than one occasion, twice because of her academic performance and once because of finances:

“I started my first year of studies in 2013, and I was doing so well. I was top of my class, and that continued for the first three years of my degree. The first time I encountered problems was in 2016, when I contracted a superbug that completely wrecked me. I became so sick in a very short space of time. I lost close to 10kgs in one week, and the infection had further damaged my lungs. The superbug was very hard to eradicate.”

The next few years would be an uphill battle for Sithabile as a law student working on her health, which led to her getting academically excluded from UCT in 2017. The 28-year-old then appealed and was admitted back into the institution, but was once again excluded in 2018:

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“Looking back, I realise it was probably too soon for me to go back because my health was still very bad at the time.”

The young lady notes that her mental health was also seriously affected by her battle and the fact that she saw so many of her peers graduating before her:

“I spent so much time shaming myself because my life was not where my peers were, but we all have our own road to walk and what’s important is to constantly keep moving forward.”

But despite her family’s concerns and them telling her it would be okay to give up on her dream because of her health battle, the brave young lady decided to continue the fight.

Covid-19 impacted young Sithabile significantly

In 2019, Sithabile completed one course that was related to her law studies through the University of South Africa (Unisa) that enabled her to obtain the credits to continue to progress with her education.

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Stunning law graduate from Cape Town
Sithabile Kuuya hopes to start her law articles in 2023. Image: Sithabile Kuuya/Supplied and Madeline Madeline/Facebook.
Source: UGC

But then, after returning to UCT in 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic hit South Africa, and this affected her greatly:

“Because of my condition, I was essentially in hard lockdown for like a year and a half, and it was hard to study under those conditions. But I knew that because I am high-risk that if I caught Covid-19, I would get very sick and could potentially die.”

Due to the family’s financial struggles, the young woman was about to be financially excluded and went on a drastic online crowdfunding mission to obtain funds to continue her studies:

“I was dropped by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and needed to find a way to obtain funds for my studies. The humility of having to ask strangers on the internet for money is something I’ll never forget.”

Thankfully, the young woman was able to complete her studies and graduated in March 2022, a milestone she tearfully describes as ‘everything and more’.

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“My family were ecstatic when I finally graduated. It was such an emotional moment and the tears were really flowing. They were so proud of me because many of them had a front-row seat to the struggles I was going through.”

Sithabile now works as a legal intern for an insurance company and hopes to start doing her articles in 2023. Her short-term goals are to work as a candidate attorney and to be admitted as a legal practitioner:

“I would also like to start a foundation to help other people who have the same condition as me because treatment is very expensive. Another dream of mine is to start an organisation that will help students in financial difficulty, because I know how hard that battle can be.”

The brave young woman wants to inspire students who have also experienced failures in their own journeys:

“I want my story to encourage anyone who has ever failed a test, exam, course or had a failed business or project to never give up. We tend to focus on our age and how long it will take. It may feel like the end of the world, but it won’t matter at some point. What will always stand out is the ability to pursue goals and achieve them despite the challenges.”

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Johannesburg lady celebrates becoming High Court attorney, stirs positive reactions from Mzansi online

Meanwhile, in another story by Briefly News, a thrilled babe from Johannesburg has set social media ablaze by posting cute snaps of herself after she officially became an attorney.

Omolola Botsane, who graduated from the University of the Free State, looked super amped in the pics posted outside the Gauteng High Court. LinkedIn peeps were incredibly stoked for the young lady, with her post flooded with congratulatory messages.

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Source: Briefly News

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