Women’s Month SA: Mom of 3 Boys Bags PhD From UCT, Reflects on Balancing Job as Media Academic With Motherhood

Women’s Month SA: Mom of 3 Boys Bags PhD From UCT, Reflects on Balancing Job as Media Academic With Motherhood

  • A mother of three little boys is on cloud nine after bagging her PhD in Rhetoric Studies from UCT
  • During her candidature, Sisanda Nkoala juggled being a mom, wife, and media lecturer at CPUT
  • The newly minted doctor also uses her position to support young women of colour who are aspirant researchers

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A doting mom of three boys is taking the world of academia by storm and recently bagged a PhD from the University of Cape Town (UCT) in Rhetoric Studies.

A mother-of-three is thrilled about bagging her PhD from UCT
Inspiring momma, Sisanda Nkoala is excited about bagging her PhD. Image: Sisanda Nkoala/Supplied and Sisanda Nkoala/Facebook.
Source: UGC

Sisanda Nkoala is an expert in the juggling act and had to balance motherhood, being a wife, and her job as a media lecturer at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) with her academic pursuits.

Briefly News had the honour of speaking to the lovely lady about where her passion for media studies started, her future ambitions, and the role she plays in inspiring young women of colour who are aspiring researchers.

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The UCT graduate always loved journalism but initially pursued an engineering degree

Sisanda was born and bred in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape, moving to Cape Town in 2004 after being accepted to study for a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering at UCT:

“I enjoyed math and science at school, so I thought I would like engineering, but I quickly realised it wasn’t for me. The only joy I had during that time came from pursuing an elective in Film and Media Studies, where I was truly in my element.
“I stuck out the engineering course until my third year because I didn’t have the courage to tell my parents that I was no longer interested in the career, but at the end of 2007, I dropped out."

However, because the academically gifted woman was funded by Caltex, she was encouraged by her bursar to spend some time doing in-service training to make sure she really did not want to be an engineer anymore:

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“I worked there until around May 2008 before finally deciding that path really wasn’t for me.”

In August 2008, Sisanda started working as a radio journalist at a community station called CCFM and loved every minute of it:

“In 2009, I studied for a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies at UCT, graduating in 2011. I then obtained my Honours degree in Political Communication in 2012 and got my Master of Philosophy in Rhetoric Studies in 2015.”

After bagging her undergraduate degree, Sisanda started working as a journalist at the SABC until 2017, when she became a permanent lecturer in the journalism and media department at CPUT:

“Although I loved working as a journalist, with my growing family, I needed a change from being a field reporter.”
The UCT graduate went from being a journalist to a CPUT academic in 2017
In 2017, Sisanda fully made the leap into academia because her job as a field reporter was not conducive to her role as a mom. Image: Sisanda Nkoala/Supplied.
Source: UGC

The newly minted doctor notes that she started studying for her PhD in 2019 and is so thankful to have accomplished her goal.

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Sisanda faced several challenges as a PhD student and mom to six-year-old twins, Zhane and Zhakiya and little Azikiwe, who is only four:

“When you’re a PhD student, there are so many opportunities to grow as a researcher through conferences and workshops. Many times, I would either miss out or especially ask them to accommodate my children.
“Additionally, I often went without sleep because I worked during the day, would spend time with my family in the evening, and then woke up to write my chapters from 2am to about 6am.”

But despite all the struggles, the 36-year-old still managed to bag her PhD, with her husband, Fusi Nkoala, and little ones incredibly proud of the accomplishment. One of her sons adorably wants to be just like his momma:

“One of the twins understands what my achievement means, and he even calls me ‘Dr Mama’ from time to time. Now he also wants to be a doctor and tells us every day that he is writing a chapter of his thesis.”

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The media lecturer wants to inspire other young women who would love to be academics

Sisanda, who is currently a senior lecturer at CPUT, takes it upon herself to encourage young women of colour to dream big and obtain higher qualifications:

“I encourage them to study further even if they are not immediately interested in academia because even just having that master’s degree can open many doors.”
Dr Sisanda Nkoala inspires young women of colour
Newly minted Dr Nkoala is a total boss babe. Image: Sisanda Nkoala/Facebook.
Source: Facebook

In her capacity as a researcher, the good doc also creates opportunities for young black women to work with her on the research projects she’s involved with:

“I identify young black females who are interested in research who can work with me. In that way, they can also be credited in my work and get exposed to research and what it entails to put together an academic study.”

The ambitious woman wants to continue growing as a researcher and has her eyes set on becoming a rated academic, and eventually an associated professor.

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Dr Sisanda Nkoala is truly an inspiration to women of colour and moms who work hard while trying to pursue their academic dreams.

Inspiring scientist recalls tough childhood, being a single mom: “I don’t know how my mother coped”

In a related story by Briefly News, a doting mother-of-two has overcome many personal hurdles to become a university lecturer and scientist.

Ncediwe Ndube-Tsolekile grew up in three different townships in Cape Town with a single mom who worked two jobs to support her and the two older siblings she has. But despite everything, the perseverant woman always dreamt of being a scientist and now mentors other young black females in academia.

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Source: Briefly News

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