HAVING succeeded at the challenge of working full-time while studying, two excited Stenden students will be jetting off to Holland this weekend to complete a three month internship at the Stenden University Hotel.
Both Nonkuselo Magopeni and Paul Vaaltein have been in fulltime employment at MyPond Hotel throughout the period of their studies.
Although both began as employees at MyPond Hotel, Magopeni and Vaaltein are now in their third year of a BCom degree in hospitality management. They say they are nervous but very excited to be offered the opportunity to study at the hotel in Leeuwarden.
Magopeni was originally employed as a receptionist at MyPond Hotel and, in 2011, after Stenden took over the running of the hotel, she was offered full study assistance as part of the staff development policy to study at the institution.
“I had originally wanted to become a nurse but, due to admission difficulties, I was forced to wait a year, ” said the 30-year old Magopeni. “I joined MyPond in the interim and have been here ever since. “Working full time and studying is difficult and, after I had taken the first module I took a short break.”
Vaaltein began working in the food and beverage industry before joining MyPond Hotel in 2009, as a barman/waiter at the Halyards Hotel. Like Magopeni, he was also offered full study assistance. Unlike his counterpart however, the 38-year-old Vaaltein is married with two children and making up for study time was made difficult. “Studying while you have a full-time job means that you don’t have any time to socialise,” Vaaltein said. “With research, assignments, test and examinations as well as deadlines to meet, it was a difficult three years. I almost gave up twice.”
The pair said they owed former general manager of MyPond Hotel, and now the general manager of Stenden University, Thulani Xhali, a debt of gratitude. “He encouraged us in our studies and gave us a little leeway if we ever fell a little behind in our work,” said Magopeni. “Thulani was able to bring himself to our level. He wanted to make sure that we grew; and we have,” Vaaltein added.
They say attaining a qualification in hospitality management has ignited a huge love for the industry. Executive dean of Stenden South Africa, Wouter Hensens, said he is extremely proud of Magopeni and Vaaltein. “[The fact] they have managed a fulltime job with fulltime studies without any delays shows great character and commitment. In dedicating their spare time to studies, Stenden is proud to be able to unleash potential to this extent.”
Hensens also said he was looking forward to May next year , when Magopeni and Vaaltein should be ready to step onto the stage at the annual graduation ceremony.