Quintine Mkhondo was born in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalang – but grew up in Soshanguve, Pretoria with his grandparents. As a youngster, he excelled at school skipping grades five and nine. By the time he matriculated at the age of 14, Mkhondo had decided to pursue a career in actuarial science and follow his passion of mathematics and problem solving. He made the decision despite his parents pushing him to be a doctor.

“I realised that I love solving problems… When I did further research into what mathematics careers are out there, I came across actuarial sciences,” he says.

Despite hearing how difficult the course was, Mkhondo stuck to his guns and decided to follow his passion:”Even with the bad things I heard about it and how horrible it is, I was still interested and that’s when I decided to study it.”

While other teenagers were enjoying their years at high school, Mkhondo was enrolled at the University of Pretoria Extended Programme in Mathematical Sciences in order to improve his maths marks. He did this so he could qualify for a place at the university’s actuarial science programme.

READ MORE: UKZN dropout graduates after paying his fees with tuck shop money

Mkhondo says his journey was not easy and he felt he had to mature faster than his peers.

“My journey at the University of Pretoria forced me to grow up at a much faster rate than the normal South African teenager, but I don’t regret a minute of it,” says Quintine. Despite the many challenges, Mkhondo’s positive outlook was what helped him keep his eye on the ball.

“When I was failing and failing, it was very hard to stay motivated. There were times when I thought to myself ‘Is this really for me?’ because things were really hard” he says. “Over time, I have matured,” he adds.

Mkhondo says the knowledge that no one is born an engineer or an actuary gave him the fortitude to continue on his challenging path. He says every dream you have should scare and excite you in its magnitude.

READ MORE: Bonginkosi Khanyile defies the odds to graduate cum laude

“What I believe is that whatever dreams we have, should be dreams that our current version cannot achieve. A rigorous process must happen that will transform us into versions that can achieve that.”

“I respect the process that goes into achieving goals and dreams”, he explains.

Mkhondo, who is the first person in his family to get a degree, says he plans to continue with his education and is currently working towards his honours degree. Later, he plans on being an entrepreneur and starting a company.

“I want to use the knowledge that I accumulated, I have already started because I trade forex with a friend of mine. We plan on  starting an investment thing for people who understand very risky markets,” he ends.