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600+km to get his degree

Lusindiso Holiday with members of his family

Lusindiso Holiday travelled all the way from East London to Durban to graduate and receive his BA Honours in Social Behavioural Studies (HIV/AIDS) on 22 June 2019. He said his undergraduate qualification was in Social Sciences and, since he started working, his work had revolved around HIV/AIDS advocacy, prevention and management, together with psychosocial support services for HIV clients and gender-based violence programmes.

Holiday’s interaction with all the clients he met during these programmes motivated him to want to learn more about their truths so as to equip himself with the knowledge and set of skills necessary for a successful and effective handling of HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence cases and programmes. So enrolling for that particular honours degree made sense to him. He can now safely say he is ready to take on the world, and to continue serving his nation in the HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence fields.

He chose to study with Unisa for two reasons. Firstly, for its reputation within the South African higher education space, especially its leadership, and the respect it has as a distance learning institute. Secondly, studying with Unisa allowed him the freedom to study in the comfort of his environment, at his own pace, with all the resources available at his disposal. Holiday said he liked the support he received from the tutorial letters. They gave students a step-by-step process of how they should tackle and approach each question they had to answer.

And mostly, he loved the support students received from their lecturers, especially for the research modules. With the research skills attained throughout his experience in the research modules, he can now say he is ready and confident to take on a master’s degree programme and further postgraduate studies beyond that. He said studying with Unisa gave him the confidence and discipline to work independently, sticking to and meeting strict deadlines.

Holiday said he disliked the fact that students who were close to regional offices felt neglected and isolated most of the time. It felt like most attention was being given to students at the main campus, especially on programmes that are meant for the improvement of lives of students. The rewarding part about studying at Unisa is that there is support every step of the way, especially on the academic front. He never felt alone, even though he had never seen any of his lecturers or classmates.

The opportunity to interact and work on assignments with classmates from diverse backgrounds was challenging, yet rewarding. It afforded students the opportunity to work with different people from different backgrounds whom they had never really met in person. That required a lot of patience, professionalism, respect for one another and discipline from all the students. That’s generally how the corporate world works and requires students to be.

With this experience from his Unisa studies, Holiday is definitely set for life and ready to play in the global professional space. Most of the challenges he encountered as a Unisa student were administrative and he believes these challenges can be tackled, addressed and improved on. He knows the university is constantly working on improving administrative challenges. In his studies, his challenges were around working with classmates he did not know and have never met, and having to understand and respect them, even when one of the students was not pulling weight during tight deadlines.

* By Jo Cossavella, Communication Officer, KwaZulu-Natal Region

Publish date: 2019/06/27