Having had amazing role models and a strong faith in God were the inspirations behind Bongani Qwabe forging ahead and completing his Degree of Master of Management Sciences in Administration and Information, despite some dire trials during his degree studies.
Gwabe graduated with a Master of Management Sciences in Administration and Information Management degree., getting a cum laude and as well as the prestigious Dean’s Merit Award for academic excellence during this morning’s first session of the DUT Spring Graduation Ceremonies.
“Graduating cum laude and getting the Dean’s Merit Award came as a huge shock to me but I’m excited to have achieved my goal of completing my Master’s degree. I submitted in May this year (2016) and the waiting period was sheer torture. When I received my report back, it was so wonderful and such a relief to see that I did not have to make much changes or resubmit my work,” he chuckled.
With supervision from Dr Jane Skinner from DUT, Qwabe decided to investigate the administrative workload experienced, and the support given, to academics at the Durban University of Technology. “A number of studies have been conducted in relation to academic workload in higher education and many have noted a marked increase in workload over recent decades. However, fewer have specifically investigated the increase in the administrative component of an academic’s workload and none have focussed on the current support given to academics by their secretaries in the context of a South African university of technology,” he stressed.
His study recommends wide consultation over the implementation of the model and the employment of a pilot phase to iron out any problems. “My study further recommends that academic departments should consider making greater use of WIL students from the discipline of Office Management who, as part of their work experience, can work closely with secretaries in departments which require additional secretarial assistance. Additional part-time assistance, possibly from retired academics, for specifically academic administrative duties should also be considered,” he said.
Through the journey of the four years which it took for him to obtain his Master’s degree, Qwabe has had his fair share of personal heartaches, with the deaths of his heroes like his beloved father, cousin and mentor: the late Penny Singh from DUT. However, instead of dwelling on their deaths, he decided to adhere to their words of encouragement and to be the best that he could be.
Qwabe, who comes from the impoverished district of Mtubatuba, did not have it easy as poverty was part and parcel of his childhood. Nevertheless, he persevered and was the first person from his maternal side to obtain a senior certificate with exemption and also the primary person from his fathers’ side to go to a tertiary institution to study. “I am actually the first person in my whole family to have gone so far in my academic studying. For me, it is my own big, personal achievement and I know it will open new doors for me going forward,” he said.
Also, juggling his studying with his work has been a challenge but not without sacrifice. “I have been working at the DUT Co-operative Education Unit for six years now and after work, I would either stay behind in my office and do some readings or go to the library. There were times when I felt like giving up but with my determination, perseverance and passion I continued and completed my work. Also, having no social life is a sacrifice I also had to make in order to ensure I continued my studies diligently,” he said.
Qwabe reiterates that having extreme faith in God and being hard working is the type of person he is. “I believe that whatever you visualize will come through with God’s will. Without it nothing can be achieved. My father and mother were proud of me, unfortunately, both are not around to witness my graduation. I am an African person, proud of my culture and I strongly believe that all my ancestors are watching over me and are still around to guide me in whatever I do,” he said proudly.
His advice to other students is to work hard as it does pay off, always have faith and not let challenges hinder you. “I have already started researching my topic for my PhD so this is in the pipeline for me, but ultimately my goal is to go overseas to complete my PhD degree of study. For the future, I would also like to do begin lecturing for about 10 years as that would give me the experience that I need and then see where my career takes me,” he said.
– Waheeda Peters
Pictured: Bongani Qwabe, DUT Master’s graduate who obtained cum laude in recognition of his hard work and excellence academically.