Sometimes peer pressure can be good. It certainly worked out for 21-year-old Rowan Haai who ended up making a decision that would positively shape the rest of his life.
Rowan, who graduated on Monday (27 March 2023) with a BCom Honours in Internal Auditing said the decision to take up Accounting back in Grade 10, was because his friends did it too. Little did he know, he would end up enjoying himself so much, it would become his career.
“In Grade 9, I first selected Life Science and Mathematical Literacy as subjects for Grade 10. Due to peer pressure, I decided to cancel that and choose Accounting and Mathematics instead. I enjoyed Accounting so much that I decided to pursue it as a career,” he said.
Rowan’s work ethic and the influence of his father
This change of heart also demanded that Rowan work hard at his academics. This has been the golden thread through his academic journey. He did his undergraduate degree BCom Accounting from 2019. In this degree he passed with 17 distinctions. His second degree, a BCom Honours in Internal Auditing he passed with four distinctions. He was also the Top Academic Achiever.
On how he managed this impressive feat, Rowan credits his work ethic to his father. Reginald’s teachings about hard work stayed with him.
“None of my family members are in academia. My dad was a security guard for many years and he has shown me that no matter what you do in life, you always need to put your best foot forward. After the move to the Northern Cape, through resilience, hard work, dedication, and a good track record my dad was able to get a job as a Mall/Shopping complex manager,” he said proudly.
Family background and challenges
Prior to moving to the Northern Cape, Rowan and his parents lived in Eersterust, Pretoria. His parents, a hardworking pair, made sure that despite all the challenges they faced, they never went to bed hungry. Unfortunately, when the Covid-19 pandemic struck they were left jobless and forced to live with relatives.
“My parents could never afford to buy their own house so we have always rented backrooms as far as I can remember. When covid hit in 2020 and my parents lost their jobs, they had to relocate to the Northern Cape to go live with family because they couldn’t afford to pay rent.
In 2021 I tutored 6 modules at UJ, worked at Gauteng Department of Education which is where I also wrote my exams. Through the hard work and saving, I was able to buy my parents a house at the age of 20. So home is now in the Northern Cape, Kimberley,” Haai shared.
Motivation to succeed and provide for his family
Being able to secure a home for his family has been the motivation behind all of Rowan’s successes.
“What always kept me motivated was the end goal. When my parents lost their jobs and had to relocate and left me being in Gauteng, what kept me motivated was my “WHY”. I pursued my first degree because I wanted to give my family a better life. The economic freedom they deserve,” he said.
Rowan had a busy academic calendar. In between pouring himself into his studies, he tutored 12 modules for UJ over the two years he was Senior Tutor. Additionally, he was academic marker for two modules. In his spare time however, he always made time for friends, and some of his favourite series.
“I absolutely enjoy traveling although I don’t get much time to do that. I love spending time with family and friends. What I do when I don’t work is spend my time watching reality TV (The Real Housewives, Married to Medicine, etc.) and binging on series. I also spend a lot of time upskilling myself and doing short online courses,” he said.
Rowan shared that his graduation is his proudest moment. And said this has confirmed that hard work is the secret to success.
“This is the proudest moment for me. I went through Honours thinking that I am not going to pass to being the top academic achiever. So, this graduation means a lot. It means that it is not about how you begin, but about how you continue to push through the difficult times”.