Mom-of-three Sisanda Nkoala has proudly graduated with from her PhD studies.
Image via Twitter

‘I often went without sleep’: CT mom-of-three bags PhD

Meet ‘Dr. Mama’, the inspiring Cape Town woman who earned her PhD whilst working, parenting, and surviving hard lockdown.


Mom-of-three Sisanda Nkoala has proudly graduated with from her PhD studies.
Image via Twitter

Sisanda Nkoala – or “Dr. Mama” as her children call her – has finally achieved her dream of completing her PhD in rhetoric studies at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

And whilst it was one of her toughest experiences, the mom of three has proudly ticked off a life goal.

ALSO READ: Women’s Day: Mzansi’s celebrities share motivational messages


Speaking to Briefly, the media lecturer reflected on how she juggled motherhood and her PhD studies, which begin in 2019.

She said: “When you’re a PhD student, there are so many opportunities to grow as a researcher through conferences and workshops. Many times, I would either miss out or especially ask them to accommodate my children. 

“Additionally, I often went without sleep. I worked during the day, would spend time with my family in the evening, and then woke up to write my chapters from 2am to about 6am.” 

Sisanda is mom to a set of twin boys and a younger son and claims her brood has even been influenced by her love of academia.

She continued: “One of the twins understands what my achievement means, and he even calls me ‘Dr. Mama’. Now he also wants to be a doctor and tells us every day that he is writing a chapter of his thesis.” 

In light of Women’s Month, the PhD graduate is encouraging young females of colour to pursue their academic dreams.

She added: “I encourage them to study further. Even if they are not immediately interested in academia because even just having that master’s degree can open many doors”.


But whilst “Dr mama” may be relishing in her new title, the journey to her PhD was filled with many pep-talks.

Taking to her blog aptly titled “The Juggle Is Real”, Sisanda revealed how she promised to never give up on her dream.

She wrote: “The first draft of my thesis will be full of mistakes. So will the second. And the third. And the fourth. But every mistake clarifies how I shouldn’t be approaching my research problem. And in so doing, moves me closer to how I should be doing it.

“The only mistake I can make on this journey is to fear making any. The end goal is a degree, yes. But more than that it is the experience and transformation I will have gone through from Ms. Nkoala to Dr. Nkoala in character”.

This Woman’s Month, we are calling all young female writers to join our exciting Women in Journalism initiative. Find out more here!