Former Student Representative Council (SRC) member at the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Midlands Campus, Robert Thema obtained his second qualification today, 29 April 2019 at DUT’s Indumiso Campus in Pietermaritzburg. He was conferred with his BTech in Tourism Management, obtaining three distinctions out of five modules at an average of 73%.
Last year, Thema graduated Cum Laude with a Dean’s Merit Award having obtained 17 distinctions out of 20 modules in his three years undergraduate studies towards a National Diploma in Ecotourism Management.
Reacting to his second graduation Thema expressed his gratitude for this achievement. “This has revealed to me that all things are possible through Christ who strengthens us. It has proved to me that whatever the circumstances, with the right attitude, zeal for hard work and commitment all is possible. I can safely say now that I can achieve anything I put my mind to,” he said confidently.
The determined Thema is currently enrolled for a Masters degree in Tourism Management. “I am challenging myself to perform excellently with my Masters dissertation that it is considered for a conversion into a PhD and I will do it – God willingly,” he said.
Thema said completing his BTech while serving in the SRC was a mammoth task, but he managed to successfully complete his studies. “I had to juggle the first half of the year doing my BTech and serving the institution in the SRC through the Education and Transformation portfolio I was mandated by students with. I had to further juggle my studies with full-time employment in the latter part of the year. The months of August to October were the most stressful months of my entire life,” he said.
The current Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Co-ordinator at DUT’s Department of Ecotourism outlined some of the findings and recommendations emanating from his BTech dissertation, which was titled: Concocting a Curriculum that is Responsive to Industry Needs. “The results of this study shows that the Department of Ecotourism is playing a role in curbing skills shortage although there exists areas of improvement. It is evident that the department certainly needs to improve the processes put in place regarding student placements for WIL. At least a majority of the students must be placed at Ecotourism establishments in order to expose the students to this niche area of the industry and so that they view the course as a niche area as well,” Thema enlightened.
Thema was also awarded the prestigious Abe Bailey Travel Bursary Scholarship in 2018, and participated in the leadership educational tour, travelling to Ethiopia, England and Scotland. “This experience has turned my entire life around. It has sparked out the light in me. It has given me a zeal for life that I know many get much later in life – I am extremely grateful to everyone that has contributed towards my development. I was encouraged by the late Dr Euvette Taylor to apply for the Abe Bailey Tour after my application in 2017 was unsuccessful – may his precious soul rest in eternal peace,” he added.
Pictured: Robert Thema