By Nduduzo Ndlovu
DURBAN: SRC Education and Transformation leader, Robert Thema, earns himself a National Diploma in Ecotourism with 17 distinctions in Ecotourism.
Overcoming all obstacles he encountered when relocating to Durban from Johannesburg, Thema said he finished his matric in 2013 because “[w]hen we moved from Johannesburg to Durban in 2012 due to circumstances at home, I enrolled at Africa Vision College for my matric in 2013. The school had a capacity to enroll about 500 students, however, the school exceeded the number of students it could accommodate, which was something that they had been doing for the past three years.
Unfortunately, I was part of the students that were exceeding the required number, and I found out in October when I was writing my third paper (English paper) that I could not write my matric exams because I was not registered with the Department of Basic Education. So I had to redo my matric the following year, and this was my lowest period in my life, given the mere fact that we moved from Johannesburg under circumstances that were unpleasant, as my mom had lost her job and my father’s business was not doing well,” explained Thema.
“Overcoming this ordeal was very difficult for me because then I was still at the peak of my adolescence and vulnerable to many things that were taking place around me, as I was free doing nothing. I ended up getting up to typical social ills with my peers, attending parties and drinking excessive alcohol, to a point where we used to take drugs as a social activity. However, in 2014 when I was redoing my matric I was able to pull myself together and I started going to church,” said Thema.
Thema believes that his enrolment at DUT in 2015 was the major turning point in his life. “When I arrived at DUT I identified a gap in terms of leadership and I told myself that I will work towards closing that gap, which is something I believe I have positively contributed to.
I’m also grateful to someone that I would identify as my mentor, Thuli Ndlovu. She was my lecturer and she advised me academically and personally. She guided me in many areas and played an important role in shaping me as a person. My turning point was when she told me that you cannot be the same person that you were last year, and you cannot produce the same results you produced the previous year,” added Thema.
He said being the first graduate in his family means a lot to him because it ushers in hope for good things to come. “My graduation means a lot to me as I will be the first from my family to be a graduate, and I believe I have paved the way for my siblings. It’s also gives me hope that this is a stepping stone towards contributing to the economy of this country,” said Thema.
He is also currently studying towards his B-Tech in Tourism Management.