Security guard with a passion for studying

Emily Motau is reaching for the stars.

Emily Motau is reaching for the stars.

Published May 20, 2024


A security officer at Unisa, despite all odds, was so inspired by her family’s academic achievements that she also decided to enter academia, saying it is never too late to achieve your dreams.

Emily Motau, who recently graduated with a BA Honours in Archives and Records Management, said she is tempted to pinch herself to establish whether she is dreaming or if her achievements are real.

She credits Unisa for playing an important part in her achievements, especially after it employed her into its permanent workforce through insourcing.

Attending the graduation session of her younger brother in 2010 and that of her daughter in 2018 motivated and inspired Motau, a member of the Unisa Protection Services team based at the Middelburg Regional Service Centre, to renew her own educational ambitions.

She graduated at Unisa’s main campus in Pretoria during the university’s autumn graduations this year.

Motau, who was born in Motetema, outside Groblersdal in Limpopo, always wanted to revive her studies, but there were other challenges she had to deal with.

“I come from a very poor family background and have always had the hunger to further my studies. I dropped out of college in 1999 at the age of 25 following the death of my mom, and I had no one to fund my studies,” she said.

She said following her mother's death, she had to raise her two children and relied on contract jobs. Salaries were low without any additional benefits.

Her younger brother obtained a B-Tech in Cost and Management Accounting, and her daughter obtained a B-Tech in Biotechnology.

Motau said ever since attending the graduations of those two family members, the urge to pursue her own studies was overwhelming. However, the elephant in the room was the lack of funding.

Soon after being insourced and gaining access to study benefits, Motau enrolled for a higher certificate in Adult Basic Education and Training, which she completed. After that, she also completed her BA Degree in Information Science.

Motau said that her newly completed Honours degree has exposed her to learning how archives, data management and record-keeping can make life easier for users. She gained valuable skills in information organisation, retrieval and analysis, which are sought after in today’s digital age.

“Now I have a passion for understanding how technology can be used to organise, manage and retrieve information.”

According to Motau, one of the challenges she had to deal with during her early study period for the Honours degree was a lack of motivation and self-discipline to stay focused on the computer for long periods.

Poor internet connectivity, especially when it happened just before she was about to submit her assignment or when she was attending workshops, was one of the stumbling blocks she had to overcome.

Online learning and studying at home also came with its own distractions, which affected her concentration, she said.

But in dealing with these challenges, she reached out to librarians for assistance, connected with other students for support and balanced her work life.

“Luckily, I had a whole community rooting out for me to ensure that I remain focused,” she said.

Motau has meanwhile been admitted into the Master of Information Science qualification.

“Learning is a continuous journey that transcends age boundaries. Regardless of your stage in life, you can benefit greatly from pursuing higher education. It’s not about obtaining a degree, but also about gaining a deeper understanding of the world,” she said.

Pretoria News

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