Case study

Supporting
Thobekile's
determination
to succeed

Online student Thobekile Ncube will overcome any challenge. Water and electricity shutdowns will not stop her studying. And she is patient. If reading by candlelight is impossible, she will wait until the power comes back on – even if it is in the middle of the night.

A difficult journey

Thobekile lives in Zimbabwe. She was studying the MBA Global Finance with the University of Derby Online Learning when her hometown was hit by regular shutdowns. This meant there was no electricity and water for much of the day.

Thobekile faced her first challenges while she was preparing her dissertation. She explains: “It was when we first started having shutdowns, regular shutdowns. There was no electricity and no water. It was really, really difficult because you have to make sure that you collect enough water and you cooked enough until the next electricity. Reading under candlelight was impossible.

“The electricity was completely shut down at my workplace for a while, but they managed to get a dedicated line. There was no way I could study at home. I then contacted the University of Derby Online Learning to make them aware of my challenges. I spoke to Cedric [Dr Cedric Marvin Nkiko], and Ken [Kenneth Kaweesa], my supervisor, and they gave me an extension.

“At home, shutdowns were worse, the electricity would go at around half past four in the morning and wouldn’t come on until around 11 at night. I had to go home and sleep until the electricity came on at around 11pm, and then to rewind when you’re waking up it wasn’t easy to study. I’d start cooking and wash my dishes until I’m really up by say midnight. I’d read up until 2am, sleep again, wake up in the morning and go to work, so it was quite a difficult road to travel. But I managed to pass and was surprised when I saw the mark, because it was the highest mark of all the modules."

Thobekile was grateful for the support from her tutors. She says that, without them, she wouldn’t have been able to complete her course. She says: “It was a really tough journey, but I am very grateful to Ken and Cedric for understanding my situation and bearing with me right to the end."

Because of students like Thobekile, the University of Derby Online Learning now tracks areas hit by significant challenges to offer students additional support.

Online student Thobekile Ncube stood with Julie Stone at her graduation reception
Online student Thobekile Ncube at her graduation reception with her family

Career enhancement

Thobekile works at the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo. She says: “I am a Deputy Bursar in charge of accounting, managing accountants and systems. I do the financial accounts, the year-end audits, and I make sure that all accounting systems are in order."

Thobekile studied MBA Global Finance at the University of Derby Online Learning. She explains why she decided to study this course: “I worked in the UK back in 2004 and I realised that having an international perspective was important as it gives you the opportunity to work anywhere. That’s why I preferred global international accounting because the world is now one global village. I realised I needed to be flexible and understand all angles of accounting in different cultures that make up the accounting field.”

Video: Thobekile at Graduation

Thobekile Ncube on her journey and how she overcame her challenges.

View Online MBA Global Finance Thobekile Ncube video transcript

Looking to the future

Now that Thobekile has graduated, she is looking to the future. She says: “What’s next for me is to take my dissertation to a higher level. Currently in Zimbabwe we’ve got economic and cultural challenges. People should change their attitude and work to change things moving forward. I now want to engage the staff and the chief executives in my university with my findings, to see how we can address cultural problems and achieve our goals.”

In terms of getting over the challenges she has faced during her studies, Thobekile says: “It has made me think everything is possible. All you need to do is face the challenge and find ways of getting around it to achieve what you want to achieve.”

When asked how she felt walking across the stage at her graduation, she says: “It was good. I felt like I’ve finally made it. It was my graduation. I feel proud. I really encourage those that I work with, those I go to church with and my children to take up the challenge.”

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