Katlelo Keletso Padi can pinpoint the moment she decided to take her future into her own hands.
It was as an eight-year-old living with her maternal family in the small town of Wattvile in Benoni.
Her mother had just passed away, and her father abandoned her, leaving Katlelo in the care of her alcoholic grandmother.
“My maternal mother was emotionally abusive and would often kick us out of her house once drunk.
The loss of both my parents became the root of the depression I experienced for most of my childhood.”
Experiencing an early life of poverty, abuse, depression, and bullying inspired Katlelo to become a self-motivated student.
“While other kids were out playing, I would be at home reading novels or trying out my aunt’s high school homework. My Grade 3 teacher realised that I had so much potential because I always took the initiative to go beyond her curriculum. Therefore, I received a promotion from Grade 3 to Grade 5.”
Although she was excelling in the academic field, her home life was on a downward spiral.
“My grandmother was a domestic worker under immense financial strain as more orphans came to her doorstep following the passing of other family members. She used to get drunk and kick us out at night. We would sleep in the outside toilet.”
But the failures she faced in her personal life had fuelled her to work even harder at her education.
“While at university, I faced financial issues, I went without food and even accommodation, but I never gave up. I used my life challenges to energize my desire to reach for my goals. In doing so, I overcame many challenges that were designed to break me.”
Katlelo’s refusal to become a victim of her circumstances enabled her to break a generational curse by being the first in her family to go to university. It further allowed her to break barriers in entering a male-dominated industry when she qualified as an NDT Technician at Eskom Rotek Industries.
However, Katlelo says it was her Post-graduate Diploma in Project Management qualification from MANCOSA that gave her the added advantage in her career.
“My MANCOSA qualification gave me a new perspective to life. It groomed me for a management position. I am now confident in my management skills as I can react differently, make informed decisions, separate the emotions from work issues, improve within my current position and prepare for my future goals. My qualification has given me a lot of recognition and appraisals at work from my superiors.”
Katlelo often returns to Wattvile to hand out college and university application forms to youth to help them realise their potential.
“I’ve learned that once you envision your future, set goals, and think positively despite your circumstances, the universe always aligns with you. Believe in your greatness, believe YOU CAN, and you will.”