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19 March 2014
Humphrey Brydon - from rags to lecturer
He has come a long way since his days as trolley assistant at Stodels in Kenilworth. While at high school, this was where he spent every single public holiday and all of his school holidays.

The reality for this Muizenberg resident, Humphrey Brydon (28), was that he had to help his single mom, Charlene, make ends meet in caring for them as a family.

At the University of the Western Cape's (UWC) graduation ceremony this week, Brydon was awarded a cum laude for his Master of Science degree. As an added bonus, he was employed as a lecturing senior officer at the UWC’s Statistics and Population Studies department. This week, the pleased smile on his face as his name was announced, made it clear that all his hard work was worthwhile.

His thesis identified six risk taking behaviours of entering first-year students relating to their sexual activity. Therefore HIV/AIDS programmes could be specially focused using these identified risk taking behaviours to adapt or develop their programmes in order to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Looking back, Brydon remembers his earlier years at high school. “There were days when we couldn't afford the basic necessities, and sometimes, when there was no money for transport, I had to walk about 10km to get home.”

The trolley assistant job he landed after matric at Groote Schuur High, luckily led to a promotion to IT branch manager, but it was his next part-time job at Bush Radio, on the IT side, that forced him to further his studies. “I was told I could stay on and volunteer, but without tertiary qualifications, they couldn't employ me any longer.”

Next came the major run-arounddeciding what to study. He knew he had the technical skills which he thought he could only use in information technology, but after two years of studying IT through Unisa and dropping out, and another two years at UCT also studying IT, he still felt unfulfilled. “I was about to register for IT again, but this time at UWC, but I knew it was going to be a mistake. In my miserable state, I was asked by a friend to sit in on one of his Maths and Statistics lectures, and that's when it clicked.

“In no time I registered for a BSc in Mathematics and Statistics in 2010. A year after obtaining my degree, I completed a BSc Honours degree.

“While at the University, an opportunity presented itself to attend methodology and
other courses under the degree of Master of Finance and Strategy. This was for about six months at Science Po, a Political Science University in Paris, France.

“This is where I was taught the skills that I employed on my path to obtaining my masters degree. The cum laude came as a surprise, but I am still very grateful that the University gave me the opportunity at Sciences Po.”

“Consistent hard work has always been key for me, though. I realise that in my earlier years my mother was as tough as nails; she put all three of us through varsity. She was my motivating factor for wanting to succeed, and I suppose as the eldest son, I felt the need to fulfill the fatherly role in the family. I saw my mother investing most of our limited resources into her children’s education, and that was what drove me to want to succeed.”

A PhD is on the horizon for this young lecturer, but right now he says, “I would like to contribute and give back to the family”.