Burundian literally ‘walks’ to excellence

2017-04-19 06:00
Kevin Kantize graduated cum laude with a BSc in chemistry and chemical technology.                                          PHOTO: SUpplied

Kevin Kantize graduated cum laude with a BSc in chemistry and chemical technology. PHOTO: SUpplied

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AN eight-kilometre walk to UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus each weekday was among the challenges overcome by Burundian student, Kevin Kantize.

He was literally on the road to a BSc in chemistry and chemical technology which he received cum laude.

Kantize, who lives in Pietermaritzburg with his aunt and uncle, both UKZN PhD candidates, said studying outside of his comfort zone increased his knowledge in several ways.

Having always dreamt of being a medical doctor, Kantize chose chemistry, a subject he had enjoyed in high school after being presented with the opportunity to study it at UKZN.

“Chemistry is fun because you discover and learn how to explain why we see things the way we see them, or why things happen the way they do.”

One of the most challenging aspects of studying in South Africa was the language barrier. Coming from a French-speaking country and with almost no knowledge of English, he had to work hard to understand the language first and then apply his language skills to understanding the chemistry he was learning.

He found that watching films in English helped him learn the language and having been among the best students during his schooling in Burundi, he was determined not to be left behind.

Demonstrating his adaptability in adversity, Kantize said his long walk each day provided time to reflect on and dream about what he would like to achieve, or simply just plan the day ahead.

Kantize’s hard work paid off. Consistently top of his chemistry class, he received five Dean’s Commendation Certificates and 12 Certificates of Merit as well as receiving scholarships which helped him complete his studies.

He encouraged other students facing similar challenges never to give up even when it got difficult.
“What you reap from persevering is the best feeling ever, making it all worth it,” said Kantize.

He acknowledged his uncle and aunt and friends for being available when he needed them throughout his studies, and thanked all his lecturers for their understanding and assistance. He especially thanked his mother and sister for their love and support.

Kantize is now doing an Honours degree and hopes to continue with his studies up to PhD level.

“It’s all in God’s hands and in His time,” said Kantize.

— Supplied.

Chemistry is fun because you discover and learn how to explain why we see things the way we see them, or why things happen the way they do.

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