21 May 2024

Written by Milpark Communications 

Beginnings in Orkney

Lumka Diop’s CA journey started in Orkney, a small town in North West. She grew up there and went to school in nearby Klerksdorp. By the time high school came around, Lumka had discovered her natural aptitude for accounting. 

“My best friend suggested that I become chartered accountant (CA), but my mathematics grades weren’t good enough,” she says.   

That, she says, was her first hurdle. Every day after a school, her best friend committed to tutoring Lumka in maths. They did this until Lumka managed to achieve the 60% she needed to enrol – and just like that, she found herself studying a Bachelor of Accounting Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS). 

Academic and Professional Challenges

Even though the degree was tough, she managed to graduate and did her CTA/PGDA at another institution, eventually doing her articles. It was then that things became even more difficult. 

“I was working and studying at the same time,” says Lumka, “I was only sleeping for four hours a night. For a whole year, I’d arrive home from work, eat, sleep from 19:00 to 23:00, and then from 00:00 until I had to go to work again, I’d be studying. I survived on caffeine!”  

A Turning Point

She passed the first board exam. But when she took her next ITC exam, she failed. The second and third attempts drew the same results. She decided to enrol again for the CTA course and this time registered at Milpark. But she was overwhelmed by the challenges of working while studying.   

Lumka realised something needed to change. She called her dad and told him that she wanted to resign from her job and study full-time. She was not going to give up on her dream of becoming a CA.  

“Whatever you need to do to become what you want to become,” her father said, “I’ll support you.” He drove all the way from the North West to Gauteng to fetch her – and all of her furniture. 

“I wanted to sell it all,” Lumka says. “But my dad said I’ll need it again when I move back to Gauteng. He was right. I’m using it now!”  

Read More: Head of Department Says: Don’t be discouraged by failure

Focused Study at Home

She moved back to the family home in Orkney, where she lived with her father, mother, and younger brother. Her only chore was to cook once a week. The rest of the time, she was studying, Monday to Saturday, through Milpark – an experience that she has loved.  

“The drop-in sessions helped especially,” Lumka says. “Being able to help other people with exam techniques or some sort of motivation, and to get their advice, too. And then to vent as well! A lot of people would be demotivated after their first or second attempt, you know – they wanted to stop trying. But then they heard the story of this woman who has failed the ITC six times, and who’s is doing it again!” (On the CA journey, students have six attempts to pass the course or redo the programme.) 

She passed her CTA with Milpark and wrote the first board exam in January 2024, finding out that she had passed. She is already studying for the final exam in December.   

Final Thoughts

“I’m going to get it this time,” Lumka says. “I have to!” 

Her advice to others is this: “You need things to compliment your work. It can’t just be work, work, work – cherish the other things in life that bring you joy. Sure, you have to make sacrifices to achieve what you need to – but don’t sacrifice the things that refill you. They keep you going.”  

She emphasises that it is important to know what your “why” is. “Always remind yourself why you are doing this, that will motivate you and keep you focused.”