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Mental strength pushes 19-year-old Quintine Mkhondo to BSc degree

By Mothusi Masemola | 2017-04-28 11:50:45.0

Quintine Mkhondo recently graduated at the age of 19 with a BSc degree in actuarial science and financial mathematics at the University of Pretoria.

The studious lad finished high school at 14 and started university at 15.

The Sowetan team met his proud dad in the dusty driveway of their Soshanguve, Pretoria, home yesterday.

"I thought Quintine was just a hyperactive boy, but there was something special about him," said Stanley Mkhondo.

He said he knew his son was special from a young age, and that also helped Quintine to persevere through the hard times the family faced.

"I remember I had loaned a dictionary from the library to improve my vocab. Quintine was visiting for school holidays as he attended school in Bushbuckridge," he says.

"After he left, I noticed the dictionary was missing, then I was told Quintine had taken it."

Mkhondo said his family faced financial constraints. " We had to sell my taxi to take him to school because I was unemployed ."

Elphina Ntsoane Moraba, Quintine's grandmother, had to step in to assist.

"I bought him 5kg mealie meal and 12 eggs, even though he couldn't cook. I gave him only R50 for pocket money and some of my duvet covers that were a gift for my birthday.

"We had to get his uncle to fix the hot plate so he could cook.

"[But] today we are slaughtering a cow and having a big party, because he has made us proud," Moraba said.

The teen said starting varsity at 15 forced him to grow up quickly. "I grew up quickly but I do not regret it. It wasn't always easy. Last year I failed and I cried. My mom had to see a doctor after I told her; her blood pressure shot up."

Quintine said his mental strength helped him.

His lecturer, Christine Kraamwinkel, said: "I knew something was going on up there, [but] when I found out how old he is, I knew. He was always working hard."

Quintine now tutors at the university. "I wanted him to work with us to be an inspiration to other students," Kraamwinkel added.