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From Setback to Triumph: my CTA story

Ngalula Tshiembi (RF2013)



My name is Ngalula Tshiembi, I matriculated from Jeppe High School for Girls in 2017.

During my time at Jeppe, I was honoured to be a part of the prestigious Ruth First Jeppe Memorial Trust scholarship programme.

In 2018, I embarked on my tertiary journey without a clear career path in mind, but I knew commerce was my calling after taking an aptitude test that the scholarship had organised. I enrolled in a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting at the University of the Witwatersrand and completed my degree in record time by the end of 2020. Along the way, I faced academic and financial challenges, but I persevered. Ngalula as a Primary School learner before being awarded the Ruth First Jeppe Memorial Trust scholarship. 



During my undergraduate studies, I also launched an online thrift store on Instagram called Thrift with Elegance. Little did I know this venture would become a significant financial support for me.


After completing my undergraduate degree, I ventured into my postgraduate studies in accounting (known as CTA) at Wits in 2021.


Up until then academic success had been my norm, so failing my first attempt at CTA came as a profound shock. The emotional turmoil was overwhelming, I struggled with shame and disbelief.


The shame was immense. How was I going to tell Mr. Kevin Tait that I had failed when he asked for a life update post the Ruth First Scholarship programme? I didn't just fail one module - I failed all four!  I vividly remember holding my results and thinking, this cannot be happening. It was a harsh reality check.


In 2022, despite doubting my own resilience. I decided to give it another shot. Unfortunately, that year didn’t yield the results I had hoped for either. I began to question if pursuing CTA was the right path and shifted my focus to growing my Instagram store, expanding my reach, and participating in pop up events. Yet deep down I knew I could not abandon my academic aspirations.


In June 2023, I decided to try once more. This time with a renewed determination. This attempt felt more personal, it was about rediscovering the driven girl Jeppe and the Ruth First Trust believed in and healing the setbacks that had me shaken.



I enrolled for my third attempt at the Institute of Accounting Science in June 2023, as they had a mid-year intake. Fast forward to 31 May 2024, the day I anxiously opened my emails and finally received the news I had been waiting for since 2021, I Ngalula Tshiembi had passed CTA!


Did I cry? Absolutely! I still pinch myself every morning to make sure it’s real.


Passing CTA was not only about healing the little girl in me. It also meant that I am a step closer to becoming a chartered accountant and more than anything I am convinced that it will end in CA(SA).


The moral of my story is that failure is the beginning of success. It teaches us our true capabilities. There is no shame in failing, even for someone considered ‘smart.’ Perseverance and resilience are key. As the Jeppe school motto says, "Forti nihil difficilius," which translates to "Nothing is too difficult for the brave."


This is the first, we hope, of many stories from our alumnae to come. We extend our gratitude to Ngalula for sharing her story of struggle and triumph with us and we are immensely proud of her determination and resilience. Congratulations Ngalula, your strength, despite adversity, is inspirational!  


Robyn HillManager: Ruth First Jeppe Memorial Trust



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