UFH Clerk secures first degree, almost 50 years after passing matric

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Richard Scott who is a Senior Clerk at the University of Hare’s Honeydale Research Farm in Alice, today, 16 May 2023, obtained his first University degree, almost 50 years after passing his matric.

The 62-year-old graduated with a Bachelor of Administration in Public Administration and became the first University graduate in his family.

“Walking across that stage, enrobed in my academic regalia, being capped by the Vice-Chancellor, and then congratulated by the Registrar, has been an almost unimaginable dream which I had long given up on. And yet, God willing, that is the scene that played out on during the UFH  2023 May graduation,” he said.

Scott completed his matric in 1978 and although he obtained the required results for tertiary institution admission, his family’s financial circumstances did not permit him to do so, at the time.

“My folks simply could not afford to send me to a tertiary institution to further my studies. I made peace with it and got on with life the best way I could. I ventured into a technical career path, very far removed from any academic nuances and I worked as I could to support my family.”

However, almost by a stroke of fate, years later, he became an employee at UFH - managing the print room.

“This move jolted my life into a new direction as I had to work with academics daily. Once again, that gnawing feeling of having missed out on what I really wanted to do was starting to rear its head.”

“To cut a very long story short, between being the victim of retrenchment, taking on piece-meal jobs to put food on the table and at times being berated and ridiculed by some colleagues in these places of employment, I knew deep down that something better was heading my way.”

“To my utter delight, I became temporarily employed at the Exams Office at UFH and I witnessed hundreds of students graduate every year. I had no doubt that this was what I wanted too.”

In 2020, he enrolled for the Bachelor of Public Administration qualification, while he was full-time employed.

“Basically, I went back to the world of studying after 42 years, during which time I had barely read a book! It was very daunting at first when I discovered the extent of the reading and preparation one had to do as a student, but I was not going to be deterred. That was also the year in which Covid-19 turned our lives topsy turvy, so I had to learn very quickly (as did all other students) how to navigate online learning and assessments. It was a challenge, a complete paradigm shift, but we got through it.”

Unfortunately, in 2022, his spouse had a bad run with her health and had to be hospitalised for a while which put added pressure on trying to keep up with his studies.

“The final challenge was the complete 180 degree, turn-around which was implemented in the very last semester of our three-year experience as students when it was decided to return to contact teaching and learning, and experiencing writing exams physically at the sports centre. Talk about another paradigm shift.”

Despite all the obstacles which came across his path, Scott passed every single one of his modules without having to write even one supplementary exam, from the first year right through to the third year. He even passed several of his courses with distinction.

“This would not have been possible without the advice and assistance I received from a very loving supportive family and awesome dedicated and driven lecturers and fellow students. Many of my friends and family members are very proud of my achievement but I am the proudest because I know first-hand the challenges, I endured to achieve the end goal.

“This has been my epic journey to graduation – it’s my story which I hope will encourage and motivate older ones and say to them in particular - I am living proof that with effort, prayer and support, anything is possible!”

Congratulations Richard!