MA GRADUATE SUCCEEDS AGAINST ALL THE ODDS INCLUDING A DEVASTATING FIRE!
Mrs Eunice Mihigo completed her MA degree in Population Studies at UKZN under extremely challenging circumstances…as a part-time student she had to commute twice a week between the Eastern Cape and Durban to attend lectures, she was pregnant while carrying out her research and - to top it all - a large part of her research work was destroyed in a fire!
A junior Sociology lecturer at the Walter Sisulu University in Unitra, Eastern Cape, the mother of three lost all her belongings when her house burned down in June last year.
Work towards her degree included course work and a dissertation titled: ‘Reproductive Decision-Making in an Era of High Levels of HIV and AIDS and Unwanted Pregnancy among Young People: A case study of the Nelson Mandela Drive Campus (NMD) in the Eastern Cape,’ which she completed in one year.
While physically unscathed, Mrs Mihigo said the fire was a traumatic experience. Her computer containing most of her research notes together with hard copies of her dissertation were among her possessions that were destroyed.
"Coping with losing my home and studying at the same time was difficult but I knew I had to produce a dissertation. It was tough because I was also pregnant at the time but I convinced myself to pick up the pieces of my life and work," said Mrs Mihigo.
Her research assessed the sexual behaviour of young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 in a country with a high prevalence of HIV and AIDS. A second aspect of her research investigated unwanted pregnancies among young adults within the same age group.
Mrs Mihigo's research suggests that the majority of the 20 participants who were of Xhosa origin believe that HIV and AIDS needs to be discussed among those who are infected with the virus. She said participants did not seem to take the disease seriously.
"Despite the trying times encountered, my love for the course and stamina to successfully complete it paid off. I feel good," she said.
Mrs Mihigo, who is in the process of developing her research into articles for publication, expressed her gratitude to her supervisor, friends and her husband for their support.