Kamogelo Ngwenya remembers when she was in grade two and her young aunt came home with a fancy new car – how did she afford it?, Kamogelo wanted to know. When she learnt her aunt had recently graduated as a CA, Kamogelo decided, there and then, that she, too, would be a CA. Many dismissed her future career choice, thinking she would outgrow it and instead pursue medicine like her father, but the inspired eight-year-old set her mind to accounting. It hasn’t always been a smooth road, but today 26-year-old Kamogelo is living out her vision.

An imperfect start

Kamogelo wasn’t accepted to study at her first-choice university, but she was soon comforted that her aunt’s alma mater had a spot for her in the 2016 cohort of the BCom Accounting extended programme. Born and raised in Soweto, she spent the first two months of her undergraduate studies as a day student, travelling to and from home, but then she moved into res, once again mirroring her aunt’s journey.

“Having a story that’s similar to my aunt is very close to my heart,” said Kamogelo, recounting her early study days.

The freedom of being newly independent was an adjustment and caused a few wobbles, but eventually Kamogelo found her tertiary rhythm. Then, in November of her first year of studies — just as she was preparing for her first-year exams — Kamogelo’s beloved aunt died. She juggled spending time with her mourning family and writing exams, all while trying to make sense of her crushing new reality: her role model was no longer around to walk the CA journey with her.

Soldiering on

Kamogelo passed three of her four exams, leaving her to write a supp for maths, which she also failed. But Kamogelo started her second year with an even greater resolve to succeed and did well — so well that the following year she secured a scholarship from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Then Covid-19 lockdowns came, and the isolation of solo online studying was too much to manage and Kamogelo failed her mid-year Bridging CTA (BCTA) exams.

When the opportunity arose, she returned to res and an on-campus study structure and it wasn’t long before Kamogelo was on top of her academics and performing well again, going on to pass her BCTA and getting accepted for the CTA. But she underestimated the intensity of the CTA. Although she was disappointed to fail, the failure prompted her to consider Milpark’s CA Connect programme.

Must watch: Kamogelo shares her top tips for academic success

The CA Connect solution

Kamogelo’s friend, who had been doing her BTCA with Milpark, prompted her to consider school. She raved about the structure of the programmes and the support Milpark offered. “I’m all about support,” said Kamogelo. “She told me that you get your money’s worth at Milpark, so I was sold.” She also liked that CA Connect gave her the flexibility to work and study online, so she registered in 2022 and, this year, graduated with her Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting.

Apart from the actual course material, she credits her CA Connect time with helping her to build healthy habits — like ‘failing forward’, which emphasizes personal reflection and interrogating the mistakes one made that lead to a disappointing text or exam outcome in order to do better next time.

A session with one of her lecturers also changed her approach to exams, prompting to her move from a study-to-pass attitude to a study-to-understand mindset. “Consulting and having interactions with the lecturers helped me to connect the dots…the way they would explain things helped me understand the concepts and get to the crux of everything.”

In loving memory

Kamogelo is currently training with a leading multinational in Johannesburg (she started at the beginning of the year) and is in full preparation mode ahead of the upcoming mid-year ITC exam. It’s her second attempt, but bright-eyed, tax-loving Kamogelo is confident, thanks to the skills and knowledge she gained through CA Connect – and her drive to finally qualify as a CA, just as her aunt did.