Perseverance, hard work and sheer sacrifice are the key factors which led to 23-year-old Andile Masuku obtaining Cum laude for his Bachelor of Child and Youth Care degree, at the Durban University of Technology, under the auspices of the Faculty of Health Sciences.
The ecstatic yet emotional Masuku was not surprised that he passed his degree with Cum laude. He stressed that he is very fond of his studies, and having the empathy and being ready to use oneself as a tool to heal the wounded children, youth and their families, drives him to be a success story.
“In 2016, when I came to DUT, I was inspired by my lecturer, who shared with us that if you focus on your studies and work hard, you can pass with Cum laude. I then told myself that I will get my degree with Cum laude. For the past four years, it was in my mind that I will achieve this. I am grateful that all of my efforts have finally paid off,” he said jubilantly.
Surprisingly, Masuku confessed this was not his first choice of study at DUT. He finished matric in 2014 and in 2015 he was studying a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource at the Richfield Graduate Institute of Technology. “During the year, I felt like this is not my calling. I have always been passionate to work with people and changing their lives through positive interactions and I thought to myself, that what I am doing here will limit me to do that. The CAO opened applications for the year 2016, I then saw the course that fitted my attributes and I fell in love with child and youth care. In January 2016, I received a call to come and register in DUT and my life changed for the better,” he said happily.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person graduation ceremonies are now not possible, however, graduands graduating now have the opportunity to be part of virtual graduation ceremonies at DUT in June 2020.
Being a virtual graduation for the first time at DUT, Masuku says that he is sad that he will not be conferred by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Thandwa Mthembu, in his physical presence, for his hard-earned degree.
“However, I must applaud the University for taking the step of doing virtual graduations for us as students who were supposed to graduate during the Autumn graduation in May 2020,” added Masuku.
Currently, the dedicated graduand is doing a Master of Health Sciences in the Faculty of Health Sciences and working part-time at the Executive Deans Office as the General Administrative assistant.
Masuku explains that the academic journey was not all smooth sailing, finding a balance between academics and his social life was tough at times. Some people would think that he did not want to engage with them because he was not available when they made suggestions of him hanging out with his friends.
“It was also hard to miss church when I had many things that needed my attention, sometimes I would miss going to church for a month because of the deadlines I had academically,” he stressed. However, there were fun moments for him, one of them being when his department would take the students for team-building exercises once in a year. “Those moments were good for us as students, especially to play fun activities together. We (students) also have to attend awards ceremonies to get certificates for best top achievers. Every year I used to get called to collect my awards. Last year, I was the top student who passed with the highest distinctions and aggregate,” he said proudly.
Also, financially he faced challenges and having being raised by a single parent, there were sacrifices he had to make to fulfil his academic dream. “When I was completing my first year, I did not have any funding. My mother had to pay for both tuition fees and accommodation fees,” he said.
For Masuku, his biggest motivating factor for studying was poverty. He told himself that if he does not want to experience poverty again, he must study hard. “I was also motivated by my other classmates who did very well in their academics. We ended up building healthy competition among each other and we use to study together when we had tests and examinations – that motivated me to do well in my academic work. Lastly, having a relationship with different professors and doctors in DUT inspired me to study hard because I told myself that in future, I also want to be like them,” he added.
Besides having motivation from his inspirational lecturers, Masuku has some words of wisdom for future students who wish to follow in his footsteps.
“You must know what you want to achieve in life. Success does not come easy, but you must go through pain, difficulties and trials to become the best version of yourself. Always strive to learn from others and feed yourself with positive information. Choose your friends and peers wisely because that might have a good impact on you as an individual. Moreover, keep in mind the reasons why you left home and came to study at DUT. Do not forget your background because if you do, you will not change any of it,” he said.
The academic journey for Masuku is not yet over, as he plans to continue growing in his career.
“I still want to continue studying until I obtain my PhD and hopefully one day, I will become an academic so that I will be a Professor. I still want to publish more research papers and create international collaboration with other academics. I am also busy writing a book that will contribute to the child and youth care field. I hope by 2022 it will be ready for publication,” he said.
Pictured: Andile Samkele Masuku