Seven years ago, Lukhanyo Mafu was caring for plants as a gardener at the University of Fort Hare in South Africa. Now, he has received his college degree from the same institution that he used to work for.

The University of Fort Hare has a long history of admitting honorable and progressive students. From Nelson Mandela to Robert Mugabe, the university has long list of accomplished graduates

Three years before the abolition of the apartheid, Mafu was sentenced to prison for a crime he says he did not commit. In 2012, he was released on parole. Later that year, he began work as a gardener at the University of Fort Hare, where he earned $5 an hour.

With the help of a good friend and academic staff member of the University, Mafu decided to apply to the University in 2014, Awonke Tshefu.. After initially being rejected, Mafu applied a second time and was accepted to the university. Mafu recently received his degree in social sciences and dreams of becoming a social worker one day.

“I would like to get my criminal record expunged as I believe prison is a place of rehabilitation and I have been rehabilitated” said Mafu, “All I want to do is make my mother and siblings proud by getting a decent job and building them a decent home”.

Mafu continues to inspires members of his community to pursue an education and he even has been known to bring them applications.