Failure just detour along life’s journey

Learn from mistakes but keep going on, girls told

SHE may have failed her statistics exam a few years ago but today Thina Maqubela is close to a doctorate in that subject – and she wants other young women to know that one failure must not derail a lifetime of success.

The lecturer, 25, addressed an audience of businesswomen and matriculants on the topic of how to use failure “as a learning curve” at Vision4 Women’s Destined for Greatness event at Bayworld on Saturday.

“My role here is small but big at the same time,” she said, as the 43 schoolgirls on Vision4 Women’s mentoring programme needed to know the line to success was not straight but took detours along the way.

The ex-pupil of Newell Public High School in New Brighton is enrolled for her doctorate in mathematical statistics in education at Rhodes University, after gaining a master’s degree in the US and her bachelor’s from the University of Cape Town.

She has listened to many success stories along the way. “But people never talk about their failures, and that troubled me. Experiencing failure is not a sign that you will not be able to get there, but that there will be hiccups.”

In her case, it was a humbling experience watching her classmates celebrate their graduation.

“Whoops, I failed stats – that is my major – I can’t be failing my major!” she said and although she was able to write a supplementary exam – which she passed – “it was not nice”.

Then, when she later graduated in the US, she battled to find a job.

“The struggles the youth face there are the same as they face here,” Maqubela said, noting that application after application was turned down. As the rejection letters mounted, she looked at her values, taking stock of where she was and where she wanted to be.

She then turned down a lucrative opportunity with a major firm to return home to Port Elizabeth and work at the Ubuntu Centre, the Zwide institution which nurtures children from pre-school to university. Along the way she has tutored and mentored others, believing strongly that “If you are going up, you had better be dragging someone with you!”

Maqubela now realises setbacks have helped to mould her into the achiever she is today, and she left her young audience with three key points:

  • Always marry your passion with your career;
  • Listen to your inner voice;
  • When one door closes, don’t bang on it, say thank you – it may be preparing you for something better!

She now knows that her passion is education not commerce, and by listening to her inner voice she knows she will be successful.

“I am doing a good job here at Rhodes; I’m proud to represent Newell, Motherwell, Port Elizabeth and in a few years time I will be addressed as Dr Maqubela!”

-Gillian McAinsh