GRADUATING AGAINST ALL ODDS: Pamela Blignaut Honours Her Late Mother’s Wish

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As Pamela Blignaut counted down the days leading to her graduation, she was reminded of her late mother’s last words to her: There is no other inheritance I can offer you my child, except education”

Today, 12 November, she claimed that inheritance and became the first graduate in her family when she was conferred with a Bachelor of Laws Degree during the university’s 2021 Spring Virtual Graduation ceremony.

The 24-year-old from Jeffrey’s Bay lost her mother to Covid-19 complications in December last year. “That was the darkest time in my life. She was my pillar of strength. I remember crying myself to sleep day and night, asking myself what I am going to be, without her in my  life and how was I going to get through everything,” she recalls.

As she shares her story, it is evident that the virus robbed her of her greatest supporter, it also robbed a mother of witnessing her prayers being answered.

Ms Blignaut first applied to study at UFH in 2016, unfortunately, her application never made it to the university. That did not deter her, instead, she applied again and was accepted the following year. “I got a call from the Faculty of Law on 6 February 2017 and was told to come and register. My parents were so proud that finally, their baby was going to study law and that the situation at home would change for the better.”

With joy in her heart, a bag full of clothes and nowhere to stay, Blignaut hopped on a bus and travelled the 360 km journey to the East London campus. “I was so excited about the prospect of changing my family’s life and nothing else mattered.”

Her first year of study was the toughest as she was unable to secure funding for the year. “Being unfunded, coupled with examination pressure,  was very stressful. Fortunately, I used to work for the Department of Education as an Examination Assistant during the matric final exams. During mid-year holidays I worked as a Call Centre agent and a Cashier. With some financial assistance from my mother, I was able to save enough money from my part-time jobs to rent a room to stay.”

Blignaut persevered through the obstacles and found strength in her mother’s teachings – “Through tough times, kneel down and pray. God will make a way”

 “There were times of failure when I did not even qualify for a supplementary. But each and every time I came back stronger with my head held up high. My mother motivated me not to give up and  reminded me of the reason why I was here – in pursuit of a better life.”

 “When she died I remember asking myself who was going to motivate and pray with me?.  I guess God had other plans for her.”

 Blignaut says she finds comfort in having fulfilled her mother’s wish for her to get an education.  “Although she is no longer around to celebrate this day with me, I know she is smiling down at me, with pride.”