Congratulations to Ms Vuyolwethu Nokwanda Nyati, who graduated in April 2023 with her MCom in Business Management.

Ms Nyati prides herself in being an individual who has always had a passion for education from a young age. As a child, she used to read Encyclopaedia books for hours, she believes that her love for acquiring knowledge stemmed from such an activity. Ms Nyati started with her Masters degree in April 2021 and finished in December 2022. Prior to studying a MCom Business Management degree, she completed BCom Honours Business Management, PGDip Financial Planning and BCom Financial Planning.

When Ms Nyati completed her PGDip in Financial Planning, she found herself unsure about whether to continue her studies or search for job opportunities. Eventually, she decided to pursue a BCom Honours degree in Business Management to challenge herself and gain research knowledge. Despite feeling scared, she opted to pursue an MCom degree to deepen her understanding of research. For her research, Ms Nyati focused on financial education and literacy, having witnessed the negative consequences of a lack of financial knowledge on making sound financial decisions. She noted the absence of financial education content in South African schools and the impact it had on students' ability to make informed financial decisions as they matured. Ms Nyati aimed to demonstrate the importance of being exposed to financial education from an early age and its role in empowering individuals to manage their own finances.

Her dissertation title is "The influence of financial education on the financial literacy of Higher Certificate students at the Nelson Mandela University". The study was a longitudinal investigation that focused on Higher Certificate (Business Studies) students at the Nelson Mandela University. Ms Nyati chose this programme as the sample for her study because it includes a Fundamentals of Personal Finance module that provides day-to-day financial education. The study aimed to determine the financial literacy levels of the students in terms of their financial knowledge, financial skills, financial attitude, and financial behaviour before and after exposure to financial education.

Ms Nyati's study made a significant contribution to the literature on financial literacy, particularly in the South African context, by conducting a longitudinal investigation to determine the impact of financial education on the financial literacy of students. This study was the first of its kind in the South African context. Although existing literature generally suggests that financial education enhances financial literacy, the study's final findings partially contradicted this notion. The key finding was that the financial knowledge, financial skills, and financial attitude of Higher Certificate (Business Studies) students at Nelson Mandela University did not improve after completing the Fundamentals of Finance module. However, the financial behaviour of these students did improve after exposure to financial education. As a result, the study highlights the need to create financial education content that is relevant to individuals at various stages of their lives to improve financial literacy levels.

During the early stages of her Master’s degree, Ms Nyati faced numerous challenges in balancing her studies and work commitments. There were times when she felt overwhelmed and unsure about what to do. Despite her dedication, she had considered quitting the Master’s programme several times, particularly during the first few months until the end of 2021. However, she soon began to reflect on her journey and the investment she had made in herself to gain entry into the programme. She eventually directed her focus on her end goal of obtaining her Master’s degree, and subsequently things started to improve in the beginning of 2022.

Through her experience during her Masters studies, Ms Nyati learnt an important lesson about seeking assistance from others when necessary. She had struggled with asking for help in the past, feeling like she would be imposing on others and appearing incompetent. As someone who typically preferred to figure things out on her own, she learnt to be more open and willing to accept help from others.

Ms Nyati's emphasised that her supervisor, Dr Jasmine Kinsman, played a significant role in supporting her throughout her Master’s journey. Ms Nyati had known Dr Kinsman since her undergraduate studies, which made the experience in terms of communication and the working relationship much easier. Despite the challenges she experienced, Ms Nyati's supervisor provided ongoing encouragement and support to help her stay focused on the ultimate goal of obtaining her Master’s degree.

Ms Nyati offers valuable advice to potential and current Masters candidates, stressing the importance of discipline, sacrifice, and effort in achieving their goals. She encourages students to view each stage of their Masters journey as a step forward towards obtaining their degree. Ms Nyati believes that learning is a lifelong process, and that it is essential to adopt such a mindset, both in academics and in life.

Presently, and during her studies, Ms Nyati works as a Junior Lecturer for the Department of Business Management at Nelson Mandela University.