Monday, 18 December 2017

Slow journey to graduation pays off

GRADUATION: Gasant and Nashira's slow journey to graduation pays off GRADUATION: Gasant and Nashira's slow journey to graduation pays off

The road to graduation took a detour for two Cape Town-based media specialists. Gasant Abarder and Nashira Davids dropped out of Journalism studies years ago to pursue flourishing careers, but the pull to complete their degrees always remained. The pair completed their portfolio of evidence for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and completed their BTech year in 2017. Abarder is the Regional Executive Editor of the Independent Group and Davids is a journalist and News Editor at the Tiso Blackstar Group which publishes the Sunday Times. Around two decades after starting their studies the pair graduate this week.

When did you initially start studying and why did you stop at that stage?

Abarder: I enrolled for a National Diploma in Journalism at the then Peninsula Technikon in 1996. When I returned from my in-service I arrogantly took the last few months of my final year for granted and failed two subjects. I thought I didn't need the qualification so I didn't enrol for the two failed subjects the following year and as my career developed I started regretting my cavalier attitude towards my academic development.

Davids: I studied at CPUT in 2000 and started my year-long internship at the Sunday Times in 2001. When I was offered a permanent position in Johannesburg I remember thinking that there was no way I could turn down such an opportunity. At the time I had heard that several qualified journalists struggled to find permanent jobs. And, I thought, I could finish the remaining six months whenever I wanted to. Now, more than 15 years later that is exactly what I did.

What made you decide to come back and complete your qualification?

Abarder: Jude Mathurine, Head of Journalism at CPUT, and CPUT media liaison, Lauren Kansley (a former work colleague), persuaded to complete my studies. They encouraged me to put together a portfolio of my work over two decades and submit this as a application for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). I finally submitted having just interviewed legendary South African musician Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse, who became a student at the age of 60. I then set myself a target of obtaining my BTech Degree in Journalism before I'm 40. So now, less than two months to my 40th birthday, I'm graduating cum laude!

Davids: In 2010 I was married with two children and back in Cape Town working for the Sunday Times when my mother said it was time to finish what I had started. In June 2016 I submitted my RPL application and in November Senate accepted my application. I cannot put into words how excited and how absolutely petrified I was to return to the classroom with students who were finishing play school when I had finished high school.

What will it feel like to finally have that degree in your hand and what are your future plans?

Abarder: It will be an unbelievable feeling of achievement. On a personal level, it is very rewarding that I can graduate after juggling work commitments, while being a parent and a husband. I hope my new qualification will assist me in working abroad for a short time, which has always been an ambition of mine.

Davids: This is not an easy process. At the heart of it all is compiling a CV and portfolio, which proves that you are competent in most of the outcomes of a BTech degree. I spent hours trawling through archives to find my work. And then it took forever to compile and present it in a legible document. All this while juggling a career and family life. With hindsight, it might have prepared me for my studies which I eventually passed with distinction!

Any words of wisdom?

Abarder: There is no other substitute – hard work wins the day.

Davids: RPL is an opportunity to grow and change how you think and work.

Read more about the RPL process here.

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Written by Abigail Calata