Durban — While many teenagers are out having fun, Hilton College’s top matric achiever Khanya Mhlongo is investing in his future.
Two years ago, the 2023 Hilton College Pupil of the Year sold his XBox and used the money to buy Bitcoin.
Mhlongo, the deputy head boy who picked up seven distinctions in his final matric exams, wants to study economics.
He advises his father on where to put his money.
“I invest on the side, I invest in the stock market. It just started with me wanting to help and contribute towards the family, just giving my father ideas where he can invest his money to ensure he doesn’t need to be working till he is 65 years old.
“I do the research and then I tell him this is probably the best way for you to structure your finances. We are in a profit right now,” he said.
Hours before the results were made public, the Independent on Saturday asked Mhlongo how he managed to stay cool while waiting for the outcome.
“Be disciplined and just work as hard as possible academically because at that point, sort of no matter what the result is, you know you are at peace. You worked as hard as possible.”
He said matric was tough because he held several leadership roles, served on various committees and was involved in outreach work.
“My routine was to be as consistent as possible. Every time I had extra space I made sure to use that time because I think it’s difficult to cram a five-year syllabus in the last few weeks.”
Although Mhlongo excelled at school, it wasn't always the case. He remembers getting 50% for maths in one test and although he was never at risk of failing, he was determined to excel academically and so he put in the hours from the start.
“I was in the prep room at 5am, and the last person to leave.”
He said his parents came from humble beginnings and his success would not have been possible without his dad’s hard work and his mom’s support.
Another key to his success was “spamming” his teachers and constantly nagging them for more work, more assignments and more prep materials so that he could improve his marks.
“Last year, I deleted all social media, I even didn’t have WhatsApp at one stage. I just told myself: head down for 365 days, you can lift it in December again.”
His dedication paid off. He has been accepted to read economics at Yale and is waiting for replies from several other universities, including Dartmouth College, Columbia, Harvard and MIT.
Mhlongo’s advice to this year’s matriculants is to zero in and focus on work and block out everything else.
“I’ve always put way more pressure on myself than anyone could put on me externally. If anybody tries to put pressure on me externally I’m very quick to resist.”
For those curious to know how he makes money on the stock market, he says it’s illegal to give financial advice because he isn’t a certified financial planner but it’s “a classic low-cost index like the S&P 500, and if you invest in dollars you’ll probably have very steady returns”.
Independent on Saturday