Graduate Suffers Mild Stroke During Studies
Despite suffering a minor stroke during her studies, Ms Bongiwe Vilakazi graduated with a Master’s in Education degree.
‘This was a life test as I was physically challenged because I could not use my right hand and my right arm was dysfunctional.’
The incident forced Vilakazi to take a temporary break from her studies.
‘I had a persuasive, encouraging supervisor, who referred me to the disability department at the University where I saw the supervisor who was very friendly and arranged for someone to do the typing for me while I narrated my dissertation.
‘However, I found that this frustrated me more because I could not think while she was waiting to type,’ she said.
Vilakazi returned to her supervisor and explained the situation after which it was decided that Bongiwe would suspend her studies for a year. ‘The wonderful thing was that during the year’s break my friends were always encouraging me to complete and finally graduate. My supervisor also encouraged me to write at least a paragraph a day. Typing on a computer using my left hand was possible; however, it was very slow.’
Vilakazi, who is a teacher, viewed this period in her life as a thought-provoking valuable lesson. ‘I learned that whenever my learners are in such a situation I will need to refer them to relevant people for assistance. Also, the constant reminder of love and encouragement that was shown by my supervisor gave me strength to continue and finish this tough race.
‘Under such circumstances caring is very important and motivation can lift up a person who has lost hope of completing the journey. From this incident, I am hoping to learn more and to be able to help my Intermediate Phase teachers when they face challenges in their lifelong learning.’
Her thesis looked at lifelong teacher learning. Within the study she highlighted that teachers needed to learn all the time to fit into the 21st century. She pointed out lifelong teacher learning was encouraged by the South African Department of Higher Education and Training’s Minimum Requirements for Teacher Education Qualifications (DoHET, 2011) which demands that every teacher is expected to be a researcher and a lifelong learner.
Vilakazi advised other researchers wanting to use personal history self-study as a methodology, to use a range of data generation strategies as advised by Samaras et al. (2004).
‘Moreover, it is helpful to retain artefacts and value them as I have done with mine. In addition, keeping records of what is happening in your personal life and of your professional growth is a necessity, especially if you plan to be a lifelong learner teacher. As a researcher and teacher, the regular use of a journal can also be very helpful. Never let challenges hinder your destination.- Melissa Mungroo