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Friday, May 29, 2020


(Phumelele Nxumalo)

Newspaper journalist is the first of her nine siblings to achieve a tertiary qualification.

Having stayed at home for four years after completing her matric in 2012, with no secure employment or no way to further her studies, Phumelele Nxumalo did not stray from her path of achieving academic excellence.

The dynamic go-getter is the first from her nine siblings to achieve a tertiary qualification. Nxumalo from Izingolweni, outside Port Shepstone will obtain her National Diploma in Journalism at the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Virtual Graduation ceremony on Wednesday, June 10, 2020.

“I was at my weakest but as soon as an opportunity for me to further my studies presented itself, I never looked back. Every time when the going got tough, I would look back at that time in my life, when nothing was coming together and I would tell myself that, ‘giving up is not an option, you have come a long way to let this slip through your hands’. That kept me focused and moving forward,” said the ecstatic graduand.

Her achievement is a reflection of the fact that everyone’s timeline is different. “The key is to be kind to your journey and trust God's timing because it is never wrong, the worst thing one can do to themselves is to compare their journey to that of the next person,” she said.

She further relayed that being a student was challenging at times. For her, the toughest part was fearing that she would not complete her second year of study due to her bursary not having paid her allowances. “I went the whole of 2018 (my second year of study) without allowances and that meant that on some days I would miss lectures and struggle to print assignments for submission. But, despite all of that, I have always been determined to get my journalism qualification,” she said.

Growing up, Nxumalo lost her mother at the tender age of 10, so she has always been “daddy's little girl”. “To say that my father was proud of me when he heard that I would be the first of his nine children to obtain a University qualification would be an understatement. He was so looking forward to the occasion, so much so that he wanted to buy a brand new suit to wear on the day,” she chuckled.

To some extent, the idea of a virtual graduation did not sit well with her, as she was looking forward to walking up to the podium, in her graduation gown, to receive her qualification. “Not having a physical graduation has impacted me negatively. Every student looks forward to their graduation day, as it marks the achievement that comes with all the hard work and sleepless nights as a student. However, I understand the situation in hand and I am actually grateful that my institution is even planning this for us, in the midst of all the craziness brought upon by this pandemic,” said Nxumalo.

Speaking more on her choice of study, she said Journalism has always been close to her heart. “I believe that there are many stories to be told in our messed-up societies and it is our duty as 'the woke generation' to try and correct the injustices of the past by telling people's stories to the best of our abilities,” she stressed. Also, for her, the field that she absolutely loves in journalism is television. “I am a technical person and I love the technicalities that go into producing content for television,” she said.

However, as a journalist embarking into the field of journalism especially with the pandemic, Nxumalo said that with the pandemic she feels scared and uncertain. “The field of journalism had already been shrinking and now there is no telling what will happen to us who are still seeking an entry into the industry as media houses are already feeling the pinch of the pandemic,” she added.

Her advice to first-year students embarking in the journalism profession would be for them to focus on what sets them apart from the rest as this profession is continuously shrinking due to news now being consumed mostly from online platforms. They need to identify what they are good at as aspiring journalists and make sure that they become the best, rather than trying to juggle everything in journalism as that no longer works in the field of journalism.

In terms of what she would like to achieve in the field of journalism is to start an online magazine focusing on people in the rural areas. “People from rural areas have beautiful stories to be told and I feel that they are excluded from the mainstream media,” she said. Nxumalo plans to pursue a qualification in Logistics or Communications and Marketing thereafter. She completed her internship at Independent Media and got a chance to write for some of the mainstream newspapers, mainly Isolezwe.