With KwaZulu-Natal known as the biggest tourist attraction in South Africa, Julius “Smiling Assassin” Mathe did not find it difficult choosing a career path to follow when he completed his matric on the outskirts of Jozini in Umkhanyakude District Municipality. He enrolled for a Bachelor of Tourism Studies at the University of Zululand (UNIZULU).
Three years later, on Wednesday, 15 May 2019, Mathe obtained his qualification at UNIZULU’s KwaDlangezwa Campus. What’s more is that his degree was obtained with a distinction, making him one of five top achievers in the Faculty of Arts.
Coming from a rural background, the road to reaching his milestone was not an easy one for Mathe. He was raised by his grandmother in a home where financial constraints were a norm. When he had been accepted to study at UNIZULU, securing financial support proved tough. “It was not easy to acquire a degree because, initially, when I came to varsity, I had no financial backing but as time went on, I managed to get it. I had to study very hard to complete the degree, visiting the library and searching on the internet to get relevant information,” said Mathe.
It was also difficult adjusting to the new university environment. The graduate admitted to never having seen a computer before his very first lecture. Avoiding lagging behind his peers, Mathe decided to dedicate a bulk of his time to his studies. He still has vivid memories of times when he’d walk for about 20kms from his place to campus. Sometimes he would leave late after spending time at the library.
“I used to envy my friends when they visited their families in other parts of the country during holidays. That motivated me to study so I could get a job and one day build my grandmother a home. I also wanted to be able to travel,” he said.
The sacrifices he made paid off each time. Even his peers were now noticing Mathe’s excellence. They called him the “Smiling Assassin” because while he was underestimated, his results were something to marvel at. All these memories, in retrospect, make him feel immensely proud of himself for his achievement. The qualification was worth every second spent studying.
Mathe is currently pursuing a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). His dream is to motivate youth to strive for excellence.
– Siyanda Mntambo
Julius Mathe was delighted to receive his hard-earned tourism degree on Wednesday, 15 May 2019.