Tshiamo Ramalepa has become what is believed to be the youngest person in his profession to obtain a doctorate in nursing at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT).
Ramalepa, 30, qualified at the Adelaide Tambo School of Nursing Science, having arrived in Pretoria from Rustenburg in 2008 to study.
“The funny thing about coming to Pretoria is that my father dropped me off on 7 January 2008 and came to fetch me on the last day of school, when I had completed the course four years later.
“There were no visits in-between, but many calls in a day. I think the first two years were the most challenging for me.”
Ramalepa said it was tough as, during his undergraduate years, he did not qualify for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.
“I only owned about four textbooks for the whole four years of undergraduate study because I didn’t want to stress my parents further,” he said.
This turned him into a joke in class, which led him to adopt a “cocky attitude”.
“I never bought textbooks again and passed. To this day, I have never repeated a module because I used library resources effectively.”
Ramalepa completed his schooling at JM Ntsime High School in 2007 and then enrolled for a TUT BTech extended nursing programme in 2008.
He completed his BTech in 2012 and started working as a registered nurse at the department of health. In 2015, Ramalepa enrolled for an MTech nursing programme and graduated in October 2017.
He subsequently completed a postgraduate diploma in public health at Unisa and a nursing education diploma at Pretoria University, following which he enrolled for a PhD programme in 2018 at TUT.
After moving from the public sector in 2016, Ramalepa worked for National Renal Care as a dialysis practitioner and then at the Mediclinic Brits as a hospital clinical coder.
Since 2015, Ramalepa has been working as a part-time lecturer at TUT’s nursing department. Ramalepa said his dream was to always complete his doctorate at age 30 and become one of the youngest PhD holders in the nursing profession.
“I shared this goal with a few of my undergraduate classmates back then and other people around me,” he said, adding that he always wanted to become an academic, or a soccer player.
“I had no plan whatsoever because I was a bit playful and only focused on soccer. Fortunately, I was led into the nursing profession,” he said.
“As a final-year student with hidden potential, I was fortunate enough to be spotted by a lecturer and taken to a nursing research conference and that week alone, solidified what I wanted to do.”
Ramalepa said his achievement had motivated many, especially nursing students at TUT, as they were now aware of the possibilities.
“This title also motivates nurses older than me who have masters or PhD aspirations,” he said. “We need more youthful researchers, professors and nurse leaders of our generation.”
In 2020, Ramalepa was awarded and named among the 200 influential young South Africans by the Mail & Guardian.
This year, he was listed in the 100 most influential young South Africans list by Avance Media, recognising the academic progress and his role in the field of soccer development.
Caxton News Service