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University of Limpopo student graduates cum laude, twice

28 Sep 2020

By Seema Johannes Seabela

A cancer survivor from Ga-Matlala in Limpopo province has graduated cum laude twice, and is aiming for a third for his master’s degree for which he is currently registered at theUniversity of Limpopo (UL).

Both France Mehale’s undergraduate and honours degreeswere in communication studies. At UL, a cum laude (with honours) is earned when a student passes all their courses with 75% or higher.

Mehale enrolled for BA degree in communication studies in 2015 with funding from NSFAS. When it came to honours, he received an NRF scholarship.

It was a glamorous feeling for one to achieve all this especially having a disability of this nature which is a boundary academically, Mehale says.

Since the university has a centre for students with disabilities the support has been great and lecturers were patient with him, he says.

Mehale was diagnosed with intraocular melanoma in 2003 when he was doing grade 2. This is a rare cancer of the eye, which affected Mehale’s right eye, leaving him partially sighted.

Having to adjust from surviving cancer to being partially sighted was a very challenging journey that needed patienceand hope. Sometimes the pain would be too much and he had to stop studying even when exams or tests were around the corner.

Mehale is studying for a master’s in communication studies while doing a media liaison internship in the Office of the Premier in Limpopo Province.

His supervisor, Dr Shepherd Mpofu, says [Mehale] is currently doing his MA by research. He is likely to be done with his research in June 2021. His dissertation focuses on political communications during elections. Specifically he is looking at how the EFF and the ANC used social media and public posters to campaign for votes in the previous elections.

Jimmy Malebati, his supervisor on the internship, says Mehaleis a very humble, downtoearth person who is very dedicated to his work, with a great work ethic.

Mehale is motivated by his condition to push himself to do better and he also draws motivation from the bible and his academic mentor and friend, Mahlatse Baloyi.

It’s not over until God says so. As long as you are still alive there is a lot you can do and never be threatened by your condition,” Mehale says.

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