Early on a Sunday morning, I treat myself to a cappuccino and the Sunday newspaper before I start working in my practice. Just as I stop my car, without fail the smiling face of a newspaper seller greets me and I always buy my paper from him. His enthusiasm and positive energy are tangible and just recently we have struck up a short chat.

It turns out that he is a final year student in mechanical engineering at a college in Ekurhuleni and is writing his final exam today. He has been paying for his studies himself through selling newspapers a few times a week and doing any part time jobs he could find. He did this without complaining and remains focused on his goal. Without doubting for a minute I know that he will continue to be a difference maker in whichever environment he happens to find himself in in the future.

He made me remember a number of similar student from marginalized educational backgrounds during my years as a lecturer who rose above their circumstances and succeeded against all odds through sheer tenacity and dedication. It also brought back memories of youth who had every comfort and opportunity available to them but failed because they were not taught substance, tenacity, and perseverance. I would like us as parents to think about how we deal with the responsibility of raising our children.