Change the world


In 2016, when BCom Business Management graduate Marie N'Guessan, arrived from Côte d’Ivoire, excited and ready to study at Nelson Mandela University, she had never been to South Africa and had just learnt to speak English.

The then 19 year old Ivorian, who spent the previous six months in Ghana, learning to speak English in preparation for her studies, had previously only spoken French.

“Before I went to Ghana, I couldn’t string a simple sentence together in English,” giggled Marie.

Marie sites overcoming the language barrier as the biggest challenge towards graduating.

She first heard about Nelson Mandela University when a family friend convinced Marie’s mother to let her study medicine at the institution.  However, it was only once Marie arrived in Port Elizabeth, that she discovered the Medical School was not yet fully operational.

It later came to light that this “friend”, who helped her register at Mandela University, had done so under false pretences, by padding all the fees involved with registration, pocketing all the additional money.

“Looking back on my journey I realise how crazy it was, I arrived in South Africa with two suitcases.  I didn’t have any friends or family here, I’m ashamed to say, I hadn’t even visited the University’s website.”

She initially started studying Geo-Sciences but found the English terminology a major challenge.

“It was very difficult in the beginning; I wanted to abandon everything and go back to my country and continue my studies in French”.

Nevertheless, instead of quitting, Marie decided to change course and pursue a degree in Business Management.

“I pushed myself to continue and finish. I did not give up, I continued studying hard and finally the language did not stop me, I even passed some of my modules with distinctions,” said Marie.

Besides running her own hairstyling business, Marie has started doing voiceover work for a well-known local production company and has landed a lead role in a mini-series, produced by the same company.

After filming, Marie will be returning home, where she looks forward to meeting the newest addition to her family, her six-month old nephew.

“While I miss my family, living and studying here, has been a great experience, I plan on returning as soon as I can to complete my honours, “said Marie.


Contact information
Ms Lyndall Sa Joe-Derrocks
Publications Practitioner
Tel: 27 41 504 2159