Having overcome adversity to reach his goal, Tshepiso Mothudi is motivated to inspire others to achieving their dreams too.
Service leadership is the first thought that comes to mind when chatting to Tshepiso Mothudi. The second-year BCom student has become adept at taking the initiative when it comes to improving things and easing suffering for others, in even the smallest ways.
Inspired by a friend who tutored primary school children by tutoring them, Tshepiso attended an Enke Trailblazer program when he was in Grade 11, as an extension of a pro-Maths program he participated in.
“There, I learnt people skills to identify and address social problems within the community; when I got back to school and wanted to do something to raise social awareness I realised it can be hectic and a handful,” he recalls. The problem, for Tshepiso, was settling on just one initiative. “I had too many ideas: I wanted to help charities, solve the problem of littering, address drug problems…”
The solution lay in offering his services in a field he was good at: academics. “Initially, I had the idea of helping the whole school, from Grade 8 to matric. But I realised that it wasn’t realistic, and that my academics would suffer, so I tried to limit it to a little group of matriculants,” explains Tshepiso.
He formed a group of students made up of those who were both excelling and struggling academically and arranged study sessions so they could all learn together, from each other.
“It got to a point where my teachers were recommending others to join,” he smiles. The impact on him was profound, says Tshepiso. “It worked in not just putting a smile on my classmates’ face, but also their parents – and made me realise that you can positively impact not only the life of an individual, but also that of those back home.”
Of Value and Meaning
Home, in Hammanskraal, is where Tshepiso’s principles of sharing and caring were first established, he says. “My older sister and I were raised by my mom after my dad died passed away in 2000; I don’t have much memory of him, but my mom struggled to make ends meet, working part-time as a domestic when she couldn’t find work. As a teenager influenced by peers it was tough to accept that you can’t always get what you want, but his mother was instrumental in shaping Tshepiso’s values, he says. “Over time you realise that some things are not important – I got enough, because my mum raised me with love, with care, and tried to provide as much as she can,” he says.
It taught him gratitude, self-reliance and independence, he adds. “I appreciate the little things, and understand that sometimes the important things are not the material things, but the meaning, and where they come from, what they were intended, is what matters.”
These values, and the drive to serve, are carried by the Moshal Scholarship Program, which Tshepiso accessed by default. He’d initially been granted a bursary that ran short of funding, and Moshal was called in to carry the shortfall. “Moshal stepped in, and said: ‘We’ll make sure you are always covered,‘” he recalls gratefully.
“I’m honoured and blessed to be part of this amazing programme. I’ve learnt that when you feel that something bad is happening, you should know that something good is coming,” he adds.
Despite the adversity, Tshepiso has made good, and is thriving at university. “My first year was easier – this year has been hectic as I struggle with my theory modules but I’m coping, he says. He has changed courses, from Chartered Accounting to a BCom majoring in financial services.
“I always loved accounting and in high school I was exposed to the Chartered Accounting route. But when I got to university, I saw that that stream is not for me; I changed to BCom financial science, and I’m hoping to do honours in Financial Management,” he asserts.
Tshepiso is inspired to not only make it big in the corporate world, but to make a tangible difference in the lives of others. “I want to help young people like me who have family or financial problems – even those who are not academically brilliant, but have talent,” he says.
“I want to go out there in the world, recognise people with different talent, and utilise and uplift them. So many times doors are shut to people because they are not doing well in school, and they can get no opportunity to advance and conquer their talents,” he explains, adding: “I want to wake up knowing I put a smile on someone’s face.”
The message he’d most like to share with others is to persevere, regardless of the circumstances. “Just go out there and, with a mind full of focus, dedication and a heart full of love, and conquer your dreams. Don’t let people stand in your way; rather be a slave to your dream, because it will pay you back,” encourages Tshepiso.