FROM HOTEL CLEANER TO PHD HOLDER, MEET CONSTANCE MATSHIDISO LELAKA
Constance Matshidiso Lelaka completed her doctorate studies in January this year and she celebrated the achievement at her graduation day. Lelaka used to work as a hotel cleaner and waitress before pursuing her dream of furthering her studies. Just over two decades ago, Lelaka served tables and swept the floors of the Sandton City’s Garden Court Hotel. IOL reported the 43-year-old is now working as a Social Scientist Researcher at the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute.
Lelaka went on to obtain her doctoral degree in Literature and Philosophy. Lelaka started working in the hotel in 1995 after her mother – a domestic worker – encouraged her to save money to further her studies. The 43-year-old said she made good tips during the 1995 Rugby World Cup. The doctorate graduate realised she had wanted to do social work since the tender age of 14. Lelaka was accepted to the Fort Hare University and she resigned from her hotel job to focus on her studies. In 1996, she enrolled for an honours degree in social work. Lelaka’s dream is to make a difference in other people’s lives.
Her supervisor, Professor Azwihagwisi Mavhandu-Mudzusi, persuaded Lelaka to pursue her PhD. “I decided to apply for the PhD later in 2015 and I completed it in January 2019,” she said. In similar news, Briefly.co.za previously reported that a SA man graduated with a doctorate degree at the age of 91. Andries Conradie became the oldest person to graduate with a PhD from Unisa.