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Unisa students share their journeys – Amro Gabriels

Amro Gabriels

Unisa KwaZulu-Natal student Amro Gabriels is in the process of completing his BCom Accounting Sciences degree. He put his studies on hold for a couple of years, mostly due to work commitments, but intends completing the remainder of his degree over the next year.

Amro says he likes the flexibility aspect of his studies and feels this is by far the biggest benefit of the Unisa model. What he specifically likes about Unisa is the camaraderie that you feel among fellow Unisa students, whether it be on the myUnisa student website, through the countless Unisa social media groups, or physically on campus. It is a special “brotherhood”, built on giving, receiving and sharing information, advice or even just moral support among students.

Amro says what he dislikes about studying at Unisa is that, because of the large number of enrolments of Unisa students, the application and registration process to study at Unisa is quite a tedious one, if one had to choose to do this physically at a Unisa campus. However, almost all processes can be completed online, and this is usually a seamless experience.

Amro remembers that, as a young child, his family was constantly relocating. He says it’s a bit of a long story, but to summarise, he was born in the beautiful North African city of Alexandria, Egypt, where he spent his toddler years. Thereafter they moved to the island of Malta, of which he has some very fond, but rather cold memories! The family then permanently moved to South Africa when he was around seven years old, and South Africa has been his home ever since.

Amro grew up in a family of four brothers, with him being the oldest. He says being an older brother is a rather special experience. He is not sure if he can speak on behalf of other older brothers, but personally, he found it both a rewarding, and sometimes a rather daunting experience. “It is rewarding in that you have the opportunity to set the perfect example for your younger siblings, and it is daunting for the same reason; it is not possible to set a perfect example,” he says. “Sometimes I worried about the many mistakes that I made, hoping that my brothers won’t repeat them.

He is very proud of his brothers, and says that they are fortunate to have been born to parents who have been committed to them since they came into this world. He is the proud father of a stunning two-year-old princess, Amrienta, and husband to a beautiful lady, Shienta.

Shienta, Amro and Amrienta

“Fatherhood has been a rather unique experience,” he says, “which cannot be truly understood until one becomes a father. Our daughter is the light of our lives, the one who can make our hearts and souls melt without a single word being uttered, but a mere smile of her lips and eyes.”

Amro says the person who has been his strongest influence in life is his dad. Coming from a limited educational background, his dad relentlessly fought against all odds to achieve whatever he had set his mind on from a young age, and he’s always admired his dad for this. He spent and still spends quite a lot of time with his dad, and he feels a lot of the vital life skills he developed over the years are as a result of his dad’s guidance.

He says the biggest “obstacles” he faced and had to overcome was becoming a father – or rather the initial learning to adapt to becoming a father. Adapting to the new fatherhood commitments, in addition to life’s demands, became overwhelming at one stage, as not only did his life literally change over a couple of days, but his wife was more overwhelmed than he was. It took them some time before they reached some level of normality, but after that, their experience has been progressively becoming more rewarding and enlightening with each passing day.

After becoming a parent, he saw his own parents in a different light, and he realised that every time they were hard on him, it was purely for his own good. He realised that no one who has his best interests at heart as much as his parents do.

Amro’s life philosophy is to always seek improvement in every aspect of your life. Be content with where you are, but don’t ever be satisfied. Entering fatherhood, adapting to its intense demands, and seeing his daughter grow while trying to maintain other aspects of his life, is by far the accomplishment of which he is most proud of.

Amro says there is nothing he would do differently if he had a chance to do so. He doesn’t feel that he needs to change anything, as he believes that things do happen for a reason, and all he needs to do is embrace his current circumstances in order to move forward. Amro said that several years from now, he hopes to find himself and his family enjoying great health and happiness, and more united than ever.

His advice to students during Covid-19, with all the confusion and disarray of this crazy period, is to try as much as possible not to get absorbed in the news, or in social media, but to keep these as controlled as possible, or only when very necessary.

“Take some time out for yourself; look after your physical and emotional wellbeing,” he says. “Your body is your vehicle through life, it is your greatest possession; if you look after it well, it will look after you, in whatever it is that you do.

Amro says the one thing he can tell the youth, is to remember the importance of having not only persistence, but also patience. Great things do not happen overnight; it takes blood, sweat and tears before you can truly reach your goals.

What this humble hunk does not tell our readers, is that he is very passionate about philanthropic work and is always willing to come on board and support human trafficking awareness campaigns for students in KwaZulu-Natal. He also does not mention that he is a model and the winner of several pageants. His modelling career starting by accident in 2012 when he was dropping off one of his younger brothers to do a photo shoot on the Durban beachfront. As he was about to leave, the organiser insisted he wanted to do a shoot with him too, and he has not looked back.

During his modelling career he has won the title of Mr KwaZulu-Natal 2013. He was placed in the top five for Mr South Africa 2013, named Mr World South Africa 2019 first runner up, won Mr Universal South Africa 2019, Mr World’s People Choice at the Mr World SA finals and he would have represented South African in the Mr Universal Ambassador 2019 competition in Japan, but due to unforeseen circumstances he did not participate in the actual competition.

* By Jo Cossavella, Communications Officer, Unisa KwaZulu-Natal Region

Publish date: 2020/10/15