Posted on April 24, 2017
Quintine Mkhondo, an extraordinary student from the University of Pretoria (UP) has graduated at the age of 19. He received his degree in Actuarial Science and Financial Mathematics during the University's Autumn Graduation Ceremonies on Friday, and his achievement is just another example of how the University of Pretoria nurtures young minds of all backgrounds and produces outstanding graduates.
Quintine was born in Soshanguve and grew up in Bushbuckridge where he was raised by his grandparents. Quintine was an exceptional student, skipping both grade 5 and grade 9 due to his advanced academic performance. In grade 10, Quintine became interested in mathematics and problem-solving and decided that he wanted to pursue a degree in actuarial science after attending a career fair during his matric year. He matriculated from Hoedspruit Independent College in 2012 at the age of 14, hoping to pursue higher education at the University of Pretoria.
Quintine knew that he wanted to study actuarial science, despite the alleged difficulty of the degree. As a prerequisite for admission to this world-class programme at UP, he needed to improve his marks in mathematics. In order to do this, Quintine enrolled in the UP Extended Programme in Mathematical Sciences on the Mamelodi Campus. This period of study was difficult for him, as he did not have any bursaries, and was living away from home for the first time at the young age of 15. However, he passed all his modules and transferred to the Hatfield Campus to complete his degree.
'My journey at the University of Pretoria forced me to grow up at a much faster rate than the normal South African teenager, but I don't regret a minute of it,' says Quintine. 'I have grown in so many different aspects of my life, and learned to work hard and never give up on what I want to achieve.'
Quintine's time at UP has not always been easy. His course-load was very challenging, and required him to approach his studies with self-discipline and motivation. He took on his most challenging course-load in his third year, which happened to coincide with the unrest on campus at the end of 2016. This required him to stay focussed on his studies despite many distractions. Regardless of all these challenges, Quintine was able to pass all his subjects and now believes that with hard work and discipline he can face any challenge before him.
'The only time you lose is when you give up,' continues Quintine. 'Endurance is the hardest part. I feel like the challenges I've faced have brought out a new, stronger version of myself.'
Quintine is the first member of his family to receive a university degree. His family could not be prouder–they are hosting a big party in Soshanguve, the township north of Pretoria where Quintine was born. Quintine considers receiving his degree from UP as one of the greatest accomplishments of his life. 'I am very happy for choosing to study at the University of Pretoria. The University has helped me develop character and valuable skills that will, without a doubt, set me up for life,' he adds.
Quintine is currently enrolled at UP for his Honours Degree in Mathematical Statistics and is working as a teaching assistant on campus. He hopes that one day he will work as an analyst for one of the major banks in South Africa or own his own private investment company. 'By achieving this degree, I am hopeful that I can inspire my family and other people who live in Soshanguve to work hard and achieve,' he concludes. 'I hope that they look at me and see that I am getting my honours, and if they work hard, they can achieve their goals as well.'
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