Meet our top performing first-year student from the Faculty of Management & Commerce –Sisonke Mkhize

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Determined to improve the lives of his family members, the son of a Gardner and a School Cook, Sisonke Mkhize has earned himself a spot on the list of our top performing first-year students. The 18-year-old from Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape is studying toward a Bachelor of Commerce degree offered by the Faculty of Management and Commerce.

Sisonke passed his matric last year at Mfundisweni High School where he obtained a Bachelor's pass which enabled him to apply to university. He obtained an 82% pass in the first semester of his studies.

“I have to push myself and strive for excellence because ekhaya kujongwe kum (my family has pinned their hopes on me,” he said.

Born seventh of 11 children, he says while he never went to bed on an empty stomach because of the efforts and means made by his parents and older siblings, sacrifices had to be made.

“My parents and older siblings worked hard to put food on the table. So much so, other needs such as shoes and clothes came secondary. I recall going to school with torn shoes as I had to wait for some time to get a new pair because there was no money.”

“My mother worked as a cook at our local school until she fell ill and could no longer work. My father still works as a part-time Gardener.”

Currently, he says his family largely depends on his elder brother who is a temporary teacher.

The avid soccer player who is playing at the University Residence Tournament which is currently underway, says he considers the University Community as his second home.

“Campus life is great. The students and Lecturers are friendly and very supportive. We also have study partners which makes the load much easier.”

According to Sisonke, his family background is what keeps him motivated to stay focused and get a university degree.

“I want to break the cycle of poverty and make my family proud. I also want to inspire my younger siblings and other children from my village by proving to them that your background does not determine your future. You can be born into poverty but it does not mean you must remain in poverty, the cycle is breakable,” he said.