Graduating in record time

25 Nov 2019 - 16:00

Mathew Dzingai comes from humble beginnings in Gokwe, a rural area in Zimbabwe, about 347 km from Harare. Before he started his formal primary education, he would read novels to his brothers and sisters and was always excited to learn and try new things. Mathew said, “This created a culture of reading and curiosity from a young age. I read a lot of books related to and unrelated to my field.”  He walked three kilometres a day to his primary school where he always ranked in the top three of his class, and at Northlea High School he was the best Physics Advanced level student in 2011. While at Northlea, Mathew taught junior students so that he could get transport money and buy his stationery while his mother, brothers and sisters helped with his fees. It was during his time at Northlea that he discovered his interest in chemical engineering, and in 2012 he enrolled in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe where he graduated top of his class.

During his undergraduate studies, he would teach O and A’ level students to raise money for his fees. “I got help here and there from family and friends. Despite economic challenges and dire situations, I was a student by day and a general worker by night to make ends meet. I am grateful to my R&D research supervisor at NUST for her unwavering support and her belief in me,” Mathew said.

While doing his undergraduate degree, he had one-year work experience with Peacocke and Simpson Mineral Processing Engineers, and it was here that he developed his interest in mining. He found Dr Malibongwe Manono, a lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering through LinkedIn and Manono put Mathew in touch with A/Prof Kirsten Corin from the Centre of Minerals Research. In May 2018, he registered to do his master’s degree, which he finished in record time. He received funding from the European Union’s H2020 Programme for his master’s degree and earlier this year he had the privilege of visiting New Boliden – Kevitsa mine in Finland.  The title of his thesis is ‘The effect of ion accumulation owing to water recycling on flotation performance.’

Mathew said, “Coming to UCT was one of the best decisions that I have made in my life. My supervisors always put me in the spotlight and gave me every opportunity to be noticed for my hard work. I am eternally grateful to my supervisors, who made it easy to settle in before I could make friends of my own. I have learnt so much from their experiences and knowledge.”

A/Prof Corin said, “Regardless of the stress he had from home, he remained positive, put his head down and achieved a lot in a short space of time. He is heading for great things!” Dr Manono added, “Mathew set himself a goal to complete his master’s in record time, through hard work and dedication he handed in his dissertation in one year and three months. His achievement is an example of what determination can do.”

Mathew says he likes multitasking and working on different projects at the same time as this prevents him from getting bored. “I am not especially gifted in any way, but I believe that hard work and consistency triumphs talent when talent won’t work. Once I decide on a goal, I never give up, and I have unprecedented tenacity and determination in seeing my goal through. I am that dedicated, and I believe anyone can achieve anything that they set their mind to. Nothing is impossible to a willing mind."

Mathew has received several exciting offers to do his PhD, and he is busy considering his options.