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14 April 2021 | Story André Damons | Photo Supplied
Keabetswe Modise is graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Administration Honours degree during the UFS virtual graduation on 19 April.

After repeating Grade 11 three times, a student in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) is graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Administration Honours degree in April.

Keabetswe Modise, who is graduating on 19 April during the UFS virtual graduation, says she used her earlier failures as motivation to work even harder. 

“I am extremely proud of myself. I chose to win instead of crying over spilled milk. As a black, capable, and independent woman, I told myself that if there is a chance for trauma or depression, there is definitely a chance to succeed and enjoy life. This implies that I can achieve anything that I set my mind to. I now hold my family’s name high in both our community and within our external family,” says a proud Modise.

Modise, a part-time lecturer at the Central University of Technology (CUT) in Welkom, has been accepted to study a Master of Public Policy and Development degree in Japan. Her academic year will commence early in 2022 and will take two years to complete.   


“This (academic success) came as a surprise. I never thought that one day I would hold a postgraduate qualification, let alone that such a qualification exists. In high school, I repeated Grade 11 three times. At that time, I was known as the dumbest kid in school and in the community. 

“I was depressed, but I did not know what was going on with me. Therefore, I just wanted to pass my matric and work to survive. During my matric year, I really became more motivated after career orientation. This is when I knew I wanted to experience university life. I also wanted to use the chance to escape the dumb girl concept and come back with a victory to claim back my name. Today I am the most influential girl in my community.”

Making the most of the lockdown

Modise used the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown to her advantage, as it gave her the opportunity to not only study online, but to also start a successful fast-food business. 

“The consequences of the pandemic on universities have been to my advantage. I managed to work at home, with limited financial expenses such as transport and printing of documents. Also, my assessments were online. This also gave me the chance to start a fast-food business while tackling academic activities on time. 

“Most importantly, I did not have money for registration, and when the policy changed for late registration due to COVID-19 regulations, it gave me time to make a plan to finance my studies. Fortunately, by August, I received a bursary from the Postgraduate School at the UFS, because the HOD was impressed with my academic record. As much as the effects of COVID-19 were devastating on the lives of people, I managed to achieve my goal,” says Modise. 

Her inspiration 

According to Modise, her parents – who separated when she was very young – inspire her. Says Modise: “I appreciate everything they have done for me. I just want my father to one day address me as Dr Modise, while he and my mother can look back and be proud of the woman I have become.” 

“In this case, I can say that I get inspired by the vision of being applauded by both my mother and father.  Most importantly, I get inspired by the changing philosophy of government management. I admire the impact of globalisation around the world. Today, any academic institution can operate online.” 

Modise’s message to others is that nothing comes easy or without a cost: “It looks like it is impossible, but actually, this is your life. I can motivate someone as much as I can, but if you are not willing to be motivated, nothing can change for you. Also, no one owes anyone anything. This is your journey, drive it.”

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