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In our GO AFTER IT blog series, you'll meet fellow students and grads who committed themselves to chasing their dreams and proving it pays to GO AHEAD toward better opportunities — no matter the obstacles to be overcome.
Kamogelo Phahladira’s accomplishments are monumental, yet she speaks softly and modestly about them, her pride coming across only occasionally in the form of a self-conscious giggle. Not merely the first in her family to graduate with a college diploma, Kamogelo completed two Ashworth College programs in the space of 12 months. And this young South African woman from an economically disadvantaged family did it by overcoming obstacles others might never dream of.
Kamogelo’s educational odyssey began in September 2017, when she arrived in the U.S. from South Africa as an au pair recruited by a cultural exchange organization that brings international students to the U.S. to provide nanny services to a host family while they study. The company promised Kamogelo “money for college” as part of her compensation package, but when she arrived in the U.S. she quickly discovered the $500 educational stipend offered by the company wouldn’t begin to cover tuition costs at any bricks-and-mortar university.
“I signed up with the cultural exchange program mainly for the potential to earn a college degree while I worked, but I realized there was no way I could afford to attend college on $500,” Kamogelo explained. “So my father suggested I return home. But meanwhile I decided to look online for a college I might be able to afford, and I discovered Ashworth College.”
Perhaps because of her too-good-to-be-true experience with the cultural exchange organization, Kamogelo at first took a skeptical view of Ashworth College. “I investigated them very thoroughly,” she said. “I read reviews and watched YouTube videos of their graduation ceremony to be sure they were a real college.”
Meanwhile, Kamogelo returned to her hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa, and took a job as a nanny there. Convinced Ashworth College was the real deal, Kamogelo enrolled in the paralegal career diploma program. “I really enjoyed that program, especially working at my own pace,” Kamogelo said. “It allowed me to complete the degree very quickly.”
But why not just attend college in South Africa?
“The curriculums for programs like paralegal or forensic science are not very good in my country,” Kamogelo explained, “and education is very expensive here. For me, coming from a poor background, it would be hard to complete a degree in South Africa because it’s too expensive, but Ashworth College was very affordable and has been a stepping stone to greater things for me.”
Indeed, Kamogelo’s success in completing the paralegal diploma so quickly – with honors, no less – led her to consider taking a second program: the forensic science career diploma. And this decision unwittingly launched Kamogelo into her dream career.
“My local newspaper wrote up a small article about my educational accomplishments, which must have been seen by the South African Police Services (SAPS). They contacted me to offer me a position in forensics, sort of like an internship,” she said. “I can’t tell you how exciting that was.”
Asked what motivated her to study hard and graduate with honors from two Ashworth College programs, Kamogelo credits her family and friends. “When my parents and some friends told me they were saving up money to travel to America to watch me walk the stage at graduation, I felt very motivated to do my best with my studies,” Kamogelo said.
Today, the sky’s the limit for this ambitious young woman, whose ultimate goal is to work in crime scene investigation. So what would she say to other prospective students who may face financial barriers or other obstacles to an education? “Don’t limit yourself” is her quick response. And that’s good advice for anyone who has not yet discovered the benefits of the affordable online education offered by Ashworth College.