Mr Nkosiyapha Mthunzi Buthelezi graduated cum laude with Honours in Applied Statistics. He said graduating in front of the multitudes was a rewarding moment for his hard work, dedication and commitment.
‘This step toward success is an achievement that can never be taken away from me. It is a positive change of life and great reward after experiencing the academic hardships,’ said Buthelezi.
Now enrolled for his masters, which he plans to complete with excellence, Buthelezi’s dream is to enter professional football. During Grade 11 at Nomyaca High School, he was selected to play for Thanda Royal Zulu Football Club, spending almost a season there before refocusing on his academics.
Buthelezi developed a love for mathematics in primary school, and credited his high school teacher Miss Sokhela for inspiring him not to give up on the subject when it became difficult.
He found the transition to university overwhelming, particularly in an environment where status seemed important and affected his self-esteem.
Despite coming from what he describes as a rough background, Buthelezi chose to focus on where he was going rather than where he had come from.
The subjects he initially selected were an ill-fit for his aptitudes. Buthelezi struggled through failing a module and health challenges, but found encouragement in his faith to persevere to a point where he achieved merit certificates for his work. Receiving a supplementary exam in third year posed another challenge, but Buthelezi motivated himself to push through and achieve amazing results.
‘Buthelezi is a very cheerful student who always brightened up the classroom with his humble smile. It was a delight to teach him and supervise his honours project which he pursued with great enthusiasm,’ said Dr Oliver Bodhlyera.
Honours was a gruelling year, requiring a high level of commitment, focus and discipline, as well as sacrificing playing football so he had time for his studies and tutoring high school learners.
Buthelezi is planning to give back to the community using the skills he has acquired. He hopes to launch a tutoring programme to help schools in rural areas with subjects like Mathematics, Accounting and Physics, inspired by time spent tutoring learners at Ndwedwe over weekends and holidays. ‘I believe giving back to the community without expecting anything gains you something,’ he said.
His career hopes involve working in a field that will enable him to build a home for his mother and father.
He said that UKZN’s programmes and activities inspire students to do more and do greater than they imagined.
He advised students not to let their past determine their future, and to work hard at achieving their degrees even if it requires sacrifice. He also advised the forming of strong friendships, and leading a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise.
‘I myself would not be here if it was not for God, my family and prayers,’ said Buthelezi.
He thanked his friend and mentor Ntokozo Ngema, his pastors at home and friends in the Student Christian Fellowship for their support.
Words: Christine Cuénod