An accomplished media personality, Tshepo Happy Maphanyane took a three-year break from her glamorous public relations career to go back to school.
Last week she proudly added BA Honors degree in Broadcasting and Journalism from Limkokwing University to her many successes in the media industry.
The bubbly and versatile Maphanyane who currently writes a popular weekly column in The Voice Newspaper and hosts two-radio shows, Soul Whispers and Wellness Live on Gabz FM was among the 4000 proud graduates that received their certificates from the University of Creative Technology last week Friday.
Voice Reporter, Portia Ngwako- Mlilo had a chat with the rising star born with the gift of the gab on becoming a graduate while holding down a hectic work schedule throughout the duration of her studies.
Q. Congratulations on your graduation! How did it feel to finally wear that gown and be called on the stage in front of so many people?
A. Shem, I felt an overwhelming rush of emotions and in the end I couldn’t control my tears although I tried so hard to keep my composure.
Before that moment, I had never thought of embracing the excitement of being part of the graduation ceremony because as a mature graduate, you convince yourself that your time has passed and therefore you shouldn’t steal the limelight from the young ones.
I had also not had enough time to catch my breath following submission of my last assignments and getting clearance from school so it was a surreal moment hence the tears.
Q. In the scheme of things how important was it for you to acquire that piece of paper, since you were already an accomplished radio personality and a public relations officer with many years of experience in a big corporation?
A. I come from a family of academics and both my parents have often stressed the importance of education so it was only a matter of time before I went back to school.
What I have come to appreciate though is that it is helpful to merge your work experience with the theory of your studies.
Becoming a university alumna also affords one an invaluable network and a sense of belonging that one would otherwise not have..
There is a certain feeling of belonging to some sort of an exclusive club irrespective of the university one graduated from.
And of course there is something special about wearing the graduation gown. There is a sense of achievement and euphoria.
Q. Don’t you think you appreciate it more because you were a mature entry student?
A. Of course that’s another reason . As a mature student I was very clear in terms of what I had wanted to achieve out of school so I immersed myself in the experience and hardly had time to loiter like the younger learners.
They have no idea how challenging life can be hence the need to invest in one’s continuous learning.
I also found my interactions with my lecturers engaging as we tapped into each other’s work experiences.
So in a sense I was a student but also shared my expertise as an experienced professional.
Q. Tell us how you landed in the media industry in the first place, was it your father’s influence?
A. I have always been fascinated and driven by connecting with others.
Seeking platforms to share and grow commonalities such as development and learning is what drives me.
Since my early years I was always a part of movements that prided themselves in nurturing strong values in young people such as Sunbeam and the YWCA programme; Peer Approach Counselling by Teens.
I was a young peer educator and this involvement harnessed my skills of public speaking and engaging with colleagues across board.
Later on I took on a project that entailed inviting influencers to schools to motivate students.
It was after one such session that I received an invitation to talk about the project on radio.
Thereafter I was invited to do voice overs for jingles which led to an invitation to co-host a show on Gabzfm those many years ago.
Radio Botswana and television followed. The rest as they say is history.
Q. I understand when you left your job you were made to choose between it and school. How did that change your life?
A. School has always been at the back of my mind and it was just a matter of time before I pursued my studies undistracted.
The subject around school is one I had had with family and friends.
Prior to Limkokwing, I had at various times enrolled with UNISA but just never completed my studies.
The combination of not being sure of the course and work constraints made it difficult to commit and focus but there came a time when I just had to bite the bullet.
I was in it to win it so I quit full time employment and enrolled at Limkokwing university as a beneficiary of the Limkokwing media scholarship.
Q. At your age obviously you had financial obligations and commitments, how did you maintain those without permanent job?
A. I always heard people saying God will provide but never fully understood what they meant until now.
I didn’t have a three- year plan on how I would afford to pay the bills and seven months into the first year I was broke.
On hindsight I could have done better had I planned thoroughly for the change.
But I did what I had to and worked my butt off.
It has been tough and at times I thought I was going to breakdown and admit I had made a mistake but that moment never came and I persevered.
I have also been blessed with amazing friends and family that stepped in at different times throughout this journey.
I honestly couldn’t have survived without their intervention.
I must also admit that I downgraded my lifestyle.
Initially I thought sticking with what is familiar to me would help me cope with the pressures of life and academics but the truth is you need to adjust and be financially savvy.
You cannot afford to splurge.
Q. You also worked hard. How did you balance your school, radio, print media and other work?
A. I honestly wish I knew how but I think more than anything I believed that my efforts would bear fruit so I pushed myself.
Though making ends meet has been a struggle, I am grateful for the aid of the small monies I made through Gabzfm and The Voice.
It really went a long way. My mother was shocked when she found out how much I was making and was concerned how I could afford anything but one just holds on and does their best.
I had not anticipated on it being so difficult, but it was.
I drew strength from my dad’s counsel from a long time ago, He had said to me, “ngwanaka for as long as you do your very best and live your life honestly and with integrity we are proud of you.
So I was never shy to take on paying gigs, no matter how small or menial some may have thought they were.
One just has to make sacrifices and forgo certain pleasures.
In the end the sacrifices paid off. I have that paper now which was my end goal.
Q. What can you say was your worst moment?
A. Within two weeks of starting school, I had been involved in a car accident, a romantic relationship I was in was ending and I had quit my work.
I had never felt completely thrown off balance like that before.
I was an emotional wreck but determined to keep it together, adding to the strain.
I didn’t know how in the world I was I going to make it? But decided I was going to.
In addition I have had so many flare ups and suffered attacks from my condition(Urticuria) despite my doctors trying to help manage it.
But I survived. I made it!
Q. On a scale of 1-10 how difficult was it to go to school full time and work part time.
A. I would say between 7- 8, but what’s important for anybody who wants to do that is to know that with focus and planning, it can be done.
Q. What pieces of advice would you give to someone working who want to go back to school and work part time?
A. Do it, Plan for it financially and stick to the plan once you have quit your job by guarding your finances, Seek out people who want the same thing for you and surround yourself with those.
Q. Now that it’s done, what’s your next step?
A. I wish there was a monetary prize in the end just to give me a little push (Hahahaha).
Opportunities are endless and there are so many ideas I have which is also school related whether I pursue it now or at a later stage.
School for me is not over. I also want to monetize my skills, which in the past I used to provide for free.
Q. Thank God it’s Friday, any plans for the weekend?
A. I will be with my family.