Unisa alumni share their journeys: Nonsikelelo Dubazana

Thirty-year-old Nonsikelelo Dubazana grew up in a place called Zwelisha, which is situated in Verulam, north of Durban. She is the third-born of five siblings. Her father passed away in 2005 and she currently lives with her mother, sister and brother. She attended Riverview Primary School and Palmview Secondary School.

Her father provided for the family when he was still alive, but when he passed away life became very difficult for the family and they struggled to make ends meet. She realised she needed to do something to help her mom and her siblings, who were very young at the time.

In high school, she studied Travel and Tourism as a subject and was required to gain 40 hours of work experience as part of her assessment. She approached KFC and spoke to one of the managers, who agreed to let her obtain the necessary work experience by working 40 hours without compensation. After completing the 40 hours, the KFC manager approached her and asked if she would be willing to become a paid part-time employee.  She agreed to work on weekends and school holidays and started to earn R100.00 per day, which was paid to her at every month end. She worked at KFC from the age of 15 until she was 19 years old.  She thus became financially independent at the age of 15 and life started to get better at home.

Nonsikelelo started her tertiary education in 2008 at Unisa. She holds a national diploma in Public Relations, and she is currently completing the final year of her second qualification, which is a Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Science and Technology. She loves studying through Unisa because open distance learning allows her to work and study at the same time. Studying at Unisa has really taught her to be independent and self-reliant and whenever she encounters difficulties and challenges, she utilises the resources provided by Unisa (myUnisa and myLife) to liaise with her lecturers. Unisa is an institution that cares for its students and provides them with job opportunities.  She was the beneficiary of such an opportunity and was employed by Unisa to run the Unisa Shop 2011 until 2013.

Unfortunately, she has not been able to secure any job opportunities in the public relations field and thus has not been able to use her public relations qualification. She is passionate about the field of study that she is currently pursuing (forensic studies). She remembers that growing up, she used to watch Forensic Files and NCIS.  She would like to pursue her forensic studies to doctorate level. The switch to Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Science and Technology was driven by her passion to become a forensic crime analyst, which entails the study and analysis of evidence.

She is currently employed as a site administrator at a company called TEMI Construction, a building and construction company that was founded in 2010 by Bongi Majozi. She is mainly deployed in projects that deal with building construction of, for example, education and healthcare facilities, public buildings and infrastructure, large commercial and residential complexes, retail developments and industrial premises, and refurbishments and renovations of buildings.  Her main responsibilities include costing and cost reconciliations, managing the clocking system, keeping timesheets and distributing payslips, and handling CSR initiatives from the communities that are linked to projects.  Prior to her joining the construction industry she had no relevant experience and as a result of hard work, have since gained vast knowledge of the construction industry and how it operates.

Nonsikelelo is a recovered COVID-19 patient. She tested positive on 23 June 2020 and had to go into self-isolation for 14 days. The road to recovery was not an easy one but she had to change her mental state and tell herself that she was going get better – and she did get better. COVID-19 makes things difficult for everyone and it does not matter whether you’ve contracted the virus or not: it requires everyone to be vigilant at all times, to follow proper procedures and protocols that are put in place by the government such as ensuring that a mask is worn at all times, sanitising and washing of hands frequently and maintaining social distance. Following the rules and regulations curbs the spread of the virus.   

Academically, she regards herself as one of the fortunate students who have the necessary resources such as a laptop and data connection, which resulted in her successfully completing her exams. She was scheduled to write six exams. She wrote three exams during the lockdown and the other three while she was in self-isolation, and she successfully completed all the exams.  She passed four modules and is still waiting for the results of the other two modules. COVID-19 has really made the lives of students difficult because they are not allowed to go to campus to utilise the facilities provided by the institution for them to comply with the academic requirements of their studies.   Not all students have the necessary facilities at home, so they have to rely on on-campus facilities. The closure of the Unisa campuses has thus resulted in some students not being able to complete their exams.

Nonsikelelo advises students to always choose a course that they are passionate about as this will allow them to complete the qualification within the given time frame, and excel academically. It took Nonsikelelo seven years to complete the Public Relations diploma, as she was not passionate about it. However, it took her only four years to complete the Bachelor of Arts degree in Forensic Science and Technology, because it is her passion. She says that students must not allow themselves to be influenced by peers or parents to study something they are not passionate about; it will be challenging to complete the course and may even result in dropping out of university.  The other advice she would like to give students is that they should not be choosey when it comes to employment opportunities.  You may not always get employment in line with the field of your studies. If a job opportunity comes your way, you should accept it and broaden your knowledge and gain experience in that industry.  It may not be your preferred or even desired field, but it will give you experience and make you employable until the right door in your field of study opens for you.  She did not have any qualification or work experience related to the construction industry, but she is enjoying every moment in the field. She says that she did not choose the construction industry, but the construction industry chose her.  She has gained much knowledge and experience because every day in the construction environment is a day for her to learn and grow. So, grab opportunities when they come along so that you can gain more and more knowledge.

She would like to wish all Unisa students everything of the best with the current academic year and for the future. It is tough with the current COVID-19 pandemic, but she knows that one day we will all overcome this.  She has offered to give one student all the study guides that she used last semester and she calls on all Unisa students to take part in this initiative as some students do not have the necessary resources to download and print the study material. She challenges all Unisa students to PRACTISE this ACT OF KINDNESS.  Study smart, stay safe, and take care!

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

Publish date: 2020/08/24