'It's a great feeling telling my gran I'm leaving for work' - UKZN graduate Dumisani Ngobese's new life

Dumisani Ngobese's life has changed for the better after his graduation.
Dumisani Ngobese's life has changed for the better after his graduation.

Just the other day he was walking across the graduation floor in his jeans and casual top, with tears streaming down his face.

At that moment, all he could think about was the journey it had taken to get there. He couldn't even afford a suit for the big day, but refused to miss it because it was the culmination of all his hard work. 

Now he has a job, and funds for studying even further. 

University of KwaZulu-Natal graduate Dumisani Ngobese's life has changed in an instant. 

The BA Arts degree 23-year-old graduate tells Drum he grew up in a yard full of sixteen people and he knew to change his situation at home, he had to focus on getting good grades at school. 

And focus he did. He had to wake up very early in the morning to walk a long distance to school and come back home late home from school just to prepare his uniform and sleep.

When he get into high school he decided to get good grades because he wanted to get into university. He knew that education was the key to success for him and it could help him assist his grandmother, who always took care of him because his mother was unemployed.

He spent four years studying towards his degree and it wasn't easy. He worked as a street vendor to ensure there was money at home. But he again remained focused, because he had a goal. 

So when graduation came around, all those hardships, the work, the effort overwhelmed him and he just couldn't help but cry. It was mostly tears of joy, he says. 

It was the day his life changed forever. On graduation day, Vuma FM presenter DJ Jacinta Ngobese started an initiative for people to donate to him after he went to the graduation ceremony without a suit because he could not afford it.

A day after his graduation he got hired by the Durban businessman and owner of Calvin and Family Group of companies Calvin Mthibeli, who was so moved by his story that he created a permanent position for him where he would also mentor him.

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Dumisani, from Empangeni, was raised by his grandmother. He says as the first person to graduate in his family, he wants to set a good example for his siblings and relatives and wants to inspire them to dream.

“My grandmother is so happy that I graduated and got the job, my family is over the moon and that makes me happy. I have a young sister who is currently in matric and now I will be able to assist her to get to varsity because she loves school and currently doing well,” Dumisani says.

He wants to change the narrative and show young people from his area that dreams do come through and everyone wins when they dream big and focus on building their future.

He planned to study for his Honours degree while looking for a job in the tourism sector. He certainly didn’t expect that he will start working two days after his graduation ceremony and his Honours degree would be paid for by his new boss.

Read more | ‘This degree is for you, Mom.’ Brother and sister whose mother died in 2020 finally graduate together

“I am happy that things are taking a good turn, this only means that anything is possible and good do happen to those who least expect them. I am happy that even at my home we have a graduate and we can all celebrate like other people. Things are getting better and all the struggle was worth it in the end.”

He started a new job on Monday; he is going to work closely with the CEO and be mentored by the chairman to learn the ropes of the company.

“This is my first job and on my first day, I felt so proud that I made it this far. At some point, I was scared because I have my own office and now I will tell my grandmother that I am going to work which is a great feeling to have something to look forward to at night. I always heard people saying they have to go to sleep early people they are going to work the following day and now I am one of them and I feel like I have reached another level of my life,” Dumisani says.

He says education is important for him because it gives him the knowledge that no one else can take away from him.

"I knew that one day I will change my situation with this degree"

“The four years of pursuing my degree were not all rosy but I was happy that I am a student and knew that one day I will change my situation with this degree and that is what kept me going and my family’s support made me fight for this degree in varsity when it was not easy. I am a person who always loved school and today all those years have paid off.”

His long-term goal is to get to learn the operation in the tourism sector before he starts his tourism company. He says he wants the knowledge and experience because when he chose to study tourism because of the love he has for the sector.

Dumisani says what happened to him has motivated him to do the same thing to the next person. "I want to start a program where I will motivate young children and share my story so that they can get new ways of coping and holding on to their dreams," he tells Drum.

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