For three years Thulani Dlamini had to live on a staple diet of bread and polony just to save enough money to register at the University of Zululand.
That was between 2006 and 2009 when he worked as a petrol attendant in Ixopo.
But that is all in the past for Dlamini who graduated this week with a degree in Nursing Science.
He recounted his journey to success saying he hoped it would inspire many other who are faced with a situation like his.
After finishing matric in 1998, Dlamini was unemployed for eight years, only surviving on doing piece jobs in his hometown of Bulwer.
Although he had passed his matric with exemption his mother, who was a farmworker at that time, could not afford to send him to University.
It was only in 2006 that he found formal employment as a petrol attendant in Ixopo.
“I got the job through my brother who drives petrol tankers. I took the job and moved to Ixopo. In the beginning I was earning about R500 a fortnight. I had to pay rent, give some money to my mother and save some for university and this meant that even KFC was a luxury as I only survived on bread and polony”.
Three years later in January 2010, when he was earning about R1300 a forthnight he resigned from his job feeling he had enough saved.
“I had saved R10 000 in those three years and I knew I wanted to come to the University to study. Being a petrol attendant was never going to be my destiny,” Dlamini said.
In 2010 he enrolled for a BSC foundation course at the University of Zululand. “It was difficult because I had never even done physics before”. Also making life more difficult for Dlamini was the financial pressure he was facing. “I could not find residence on campus and I had to rent a room off-campus”. With the help of his pensioner mother he pulled through and the following year he registered for the four-year degree in Nursing Science which he completed last year.
He is now doing his community service at Estcourt Hospital. He hopes that his story would inspire other UNIZULU students especially those who do not come from well-off families.