Brilliant Graduate Only Aims for the Stars

When Khayelihle Madlopha walked through the gates of the University of Zululand (UNIZULU) three years ago, he swore to settle for nothing less than academic excellence. ​His name would be counted among those of UNIZULU alumni who have flown the university flag very high.

Achieving his goal was never going to come easily though; it would require hard work and perseverance. However, one thing was certain, the young man was willing to do whatever it would take to fulfil his dream.

On Thursday, 16 May 2019, what was before a dream now became a reality for Madlopha. He was conferred with a BCom (Economics and Banking Management) degree. His few moments on stage were accompanied by resounding applause and loud cheers from the audience upon hearing that the graduate’s degree was awarded with a distinction.

Madlopha is the embodiment of his mantra which denotes that “if a man can think it, then a man can do it”.

It was the same words that saw the graduate scooping first prize in the undergraduate category of the 2017 Nedbank and Old Mutual Budget Speech Competition. Initiated in 1972, the prestigious competition challenges undergraduate and postgraduate students registered for an economics course at any recognised South African institution of higher education to think critically about economic matters through tasking them to conduct research on topical economic issues. Not only was Madlopha’s victory a first for UNIZULU, it was a first for the KwaZulu-Natal province as well. His winning essay focused on the detrimental effect of corruption on the economy and taxes.

In 2018, Madlopha was once again among the top ten entrants in the same competition, though he eventually did not bring the prize home. The overachiever then broke new ground in November 2018 when he published a paper in the second issue of the Journal of Economic and Behavioural Studies. “That was one of the highlights of my career because it is very rare for undergraduates to publish,” he said.

Madlopha’s love for current affairs and learning about issues relating to the economy is what motivated him to pursue a career in economics. His older brother also had an indirect role to play. While he was in matric, the older brother would share what he had learned in Economics class with Madlopha who, as a result, developed a great interest in the field of economics.

The Ulundi-born young man, who has his mind set on obtaining a PhD in economics one day, is currently studying towards an Honours in Economics degree at the University of Johannesburg, where he is also a part-time academic writing tutor for undergraduates and research assistant. He also works part time at Vindilac Analytics as a research assistant.

Madlopha has been an inspiration to all of his friends and encourages them to discover and achieve their true potential. “Believe that you can do anything. Work, edify yourself and seek knowledge as it shall never desert you. Work smart, not hard and strategise” is his advice.

Talking about his future goals, he said he would like to work for the South African Reserve Bank while continuing to work at Vindilac Analytics. His ultimate goal is to contribute to the economic and social upliftment of South Africans.

While self-confidence is an innate trait for him, Madlopha also paid tribute to his mother whom he said constantly supported and motivated along his journey. Her words of encouragement, that he is more than capable of “reaching for the stars”, always echo in Madlopha’s ears.

– Precious Shamase and Naledi Hlefane

Caption

Khayelihle Madlopha, a BCom (Economics and Banking Management) graduate, celebrates reaching his milestone with his mother whose words of encouragement always see the graduate through tough times.