At 19, a Brainy girl bags her first degree

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At an age when most of her mates are entering university, Noluthando Cibane already has a degree behind her name and is working on obtaining an honours.Cibane, who is 19, graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal last week.


The young woman from Umlazi in Durban started school when she was just five years old instead of seven.”I used to stay at home with my mom but she got a job as a domestic worker and there was no one to look after me. She then took me to our local primary school to admit for Grade 1,” Cibane said.But her mother’s plan was met with resistance from teachers at Bavumile Primary School who realized that she was still too young and should be in Grade R or attending crèche.”They told my mother that she should wait until I was seven to start school but she persist that they admit me. They enrolled me on condition that should I not cope they would move me to Grade R,” she said.

But this was not going to be as Cibane overcome everyone’s expectations.”I passed well and I was the top pupil in my class,” she said.Throughout her schooling career Cibane excelled in her studies and was always in the top 10 performing pupils.At 16 she passed her matric in 2012 with flying colours and even managed to obtain two dissimilations in accounting and life orientation.She applied to study at UKZN and was helped through with funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.She admits that going to university was a scary experience because she was leaving the comfort of her home.

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Cibane joins the likes of Dr Sandile Kubheka who became the youngest doctor at 20 after graduating at UKZN two years ago.She said when she arrived at UKZN she never wanted people to treat her differently.”I never told people my age and most of them found out when they saw my student card and they would say ‘Hawu, kanti uyingane’ (you are a child),” Cibane said.To avoid being bemused from focusing on her studies, she said she mingled with like-minded people in varsity and attending kirk kept her grounded and she never lost herself.

Cibane is now studying towards an honours degree in finance at UKZN.She wants to open her own business when she is 25 and create employment for other people instead of working for someone.Her mother, Nomathamsanqa, said she did not know that the day would come when she would see her child graduate.”When I took her to school when she was five I did not anticipate anything like this. I give all the glory to God.”I ask myself ‘who am I that God has elevated me like this’ through my children’. God has really squatted me,” she said.