What does it take for an ordinary student to pass with distinctions in tests, assignments, and exams - and graduate with a cum laude? Well, for University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Honours student, Charity Chisoro, a recipe of genius plus hard-work makes a top achieving student. From first year to third year, Chisoro was the top student within the Faculty of Humanities, and overall achieving student at UJ at the end of 2014. An ordinary 30-year-old Zimbabwean international, who could not further her studies due to lack of funds after completing her matric in 2002, Chisoro seized an opportunity to study at UJ when her father became a lecturer at the University in 2012. Since then, the inspirational Chisoro never looked back. She is now studying towards an Honours degree in Development Studies at UJ. The humble Chisoro was born and raised in Mutare and later moved to Harare in Zimbabwe. Chisoro attended Baring Primary School and later completed her secondary education at Hartzell High School where she did her O-Level (Grade 8 to 11) and A-Level (Grade 12 – which is called Form 5 and 6 in Zimbabwe). Growing up, she was a bright learner who lived with both parents and siblings. For nine years, Chisoro was unable to study further because her parents could not pay for her tertiary education. Upon completing her matric, she worked as a temporary teacher and later worked for a local Zimbabwean bank to make a living. Four years ago, inspired by her younger brother (who also was a top achiever at the University), Chisoro applied to study Development Studies. As UJ provides educational assistance to its employees, Chisoro’s father, who was working as a lecturer at the University, could then fund her daughter’s study fees. “Although I was not aware that I could pass that well at university level, I worked very hard because I did not want to disappoint myself and my father. I told myself that this was the opportunity I had been longing for and I could not waste it. To my surprise, there were people at UJ that noticed my hard work and I was awarded merit bursaries. I was also surprised when I was invited to the Top Achievers’ function. It was humbling and awesome,” says Chisoro. Asked how she managed to pass with distinctions throughout the course of her degree, Chisoro said that it was intelligence coupled with hard work and motivation from family and UJ lecturers. “We have enough resources to be great student achievers at UJ. The Writing Centre helped me a lot. The internet labs are a haven to students like me who do not have our own computers, and we also get support from PsyCaD – UJ’s Psychological Centre for Academic Development, among other support structures,” marveled Chisoro. The bright hopeful, who is passionate about working with people, says she wishes to complete her Master’s and Post-Doctoral degrees before she works fulltime in the near future. Her advice for first year students in tertiary institutions: “You have made it to university – that means you have the potential to be a successful individual. Live a balanced life and do not underestimate yourselves.” Charity Chisoro will be speaking at the Academic Opening on Friday, 30 January at UJ Soweto Campus Source: www.uj.ac.za