A mother’s love knows no bounds. Nor does her grit. When life threw curveballs at Temwa Khonje, she hit them all out of the park. Temwa’s success in becoming a Medical Lab Assistant is a testament to her will and her love for her children.
Hitting the rough patch
Temwa has seen many highs and lows in life. She was 21 when she dropped out of university to get married. Soon after, she got pregnant and had her first child. Her husband was in the United States Navy and was away for most of her pregnancy – ultimately, the relationship did not work out.
Several years later, Temwa met her second husband, with whom she ran a marketing company. They had three children, but all was still not well in Temwa’s life. The relationship was falling apart and after 10 years of marriage, her second husband abandoned her and their three young children. “I felt like a complete failure, in more ways than one, because I have four kids and it wasn’t just one failed marriage, I had two failed marriages. It was hard and I lived in such a small town that everybody knew.”
She now had debts to repay and young children to raise, all on her own. Temwa started looking for short-term courses that could help her become financially stable. While Temwa was trying to make ends meet on social assistance and studying part-time to better her prospects, tragedy struck. Her oldest son had an accident, leaving him in a wheelchair for months. Fortunately, he recovered and Temwa was able to complete her program on time. Unfortunately, luck was not in her favour, yet again. She earned high grades but failed to land a permanent job in her field.
Temwa was under a lot of pressure. She was at a point where anybody else would have broken down. But Temwa isn’t just anybody else.
The Silver Lining
This was when she came across Stenberg College. She attended an information session for the Medical Lab Assistant (MLA) program and realized that this was a break in the clouds.
She enrolled in the 30-week diploma program and started studying full-time. She knew she had to become an MLA for her kids and drew strength from her academic success. She excelled in all the courses achieving a 95 per cent Grade Point Average; her exemplary spirit won her the coveted Student of the Year Award in 2016. As part of the award, her tuition was reimbursed.
“I wanted something that would make me feel proud of the woman that I am – something that would make my kids look up at me and be proud. Before Stenberg I didn’t feel like I had that.” She landed her practicum at a LifeLabs location and grew as a professional on the job. She was offered a permanent position at that location and is currently working as a successful Medical Lab Assistant.
Her story is an inspiration to anyone looking for something better. In Temwa’s words, “If my story can inspire even one woman that’s in a situation where she doesn’t feel she’s good enough or thinks she doesn’t have the strength to go for it and move forward, that’s so much more than I could ever have hoped for.”
To learn more about the Medical Lab Assistant program, attend an upcoming information session. Stenberg has info sessions scheduled in Victoria and Nanaimo on March 6 and 7, respectively. Visit stenbergcollege.com/events to register for the info sessions.