Losing her hearing and suffering from hemiplegia did not prevent Ms Mbali Sithole from reaching great academic heights. Sithole defied the odds and graduated with a bachelor of education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Sithole became deaf and suffered hemiplegia on her right side – paralysis of one side of the body – during her undergraduate studies.
‘My friend Nathan persuaded me to study at UKZN. I didn’t even believe him or even know that universities take deaf students. Being at UKZN has changed my life and this is where I began to pursue my goals. The University has restored what I lost through my disability.’
An inspiration to other physically challenged students, Sithole said: ‘The secret behind my success was praying and working hard. One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is not to compare myself to anyone. I encourage students not to let their disability stop them from achieving their goals. Believe in yourself, everything is possible.’
Due to her hearing impairment and disability, Sithole struggled to find a school in which she could do her teaching practice. Eventually, she was accepted at V.N Naik School for the Deaf where she learned sign language.
Sithole now plans to obtain a postgraduate degree and, in time, become a teacher at a school that caters for the hearing-impaired.
She thanked her family, friends and the UKZN Disability Support Unit, for their prayers, motivation and support.
‘To those that are faced with disabilities and various issues, always have faith and believe in yourself. Never let anyone take advantage of your situation,’ said Sithole.