Ten degrees under her belt yet still Dr Mngadi studies for a law degree solely to support her daughter’s academics 

A mother and daughter graduated together with LLB degrees at Wits University last week. The mother decided to study for her 11th degree with the aim of morally supporting her daughter, who was struggling to complete her degree due to a traumatic family incident.

Soweto-born Dr Zanelle Mngadi holds a Master of Commerce, Master of Business Administration and a PhD in Philosophy. She has lectured at various universities around the world, and is currently a finance professor at the University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Dr Mngadi’s 27-year-old daughter, Nina Hammond, struggled with her studies after tragedy struck in the family in 2013. Her older sister was murdered, which caused Hammond to fall into depression. As a result, her studies were negatively affected for two years, failing a course twice.

Although the initial plan for Dr Mngadi’s return to South Africa was to support her daughter’s academics, she found herself equally relying on her daughter for motivation.

When Dr Mngadi had lacked the motivation to do an assignment, Hammond would say, “Sorry for you, mother, people know that I know you so you can’t embarrass me, do your work.”

The professor says, “A four-year curricula squeezed into three years was hectic.” While studying she worked and ran Emangadini, a foundation she started for children in need of child care and education.

Dr Mngadi told Wits Vuvuzela that she did not need any further qualifications. “Reading law was never planned. However, I must admit it was the most enjoyable of my 11 qualifications.”

She was permitted to begin the degree from second year through the Recognition of Prior Learning process.

During her time as a law student, Dr Mngadi not only supported her daughter but adopted many other students, some of whom she paid tuition fees for.

Hammond’s plan is to complete her articles.