School of Built Environment & Development Studies

Celebrity Fitness trainer Sbahle Mpisane graduated with her Bachelors degree in Housing and Town Planning.
Celebrity Fitness trainer Sbahle Mpisane graduated with her Bachelors degree in Housing and Town Planning.

Celebrity fitness trainer Sbahle Mpisane, also known as the FitnessBunnie, graduated with a bachelors degree in housing and town planning at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

She is a personal trainer who chronicled her journey to becoming a fitness icon on Instagram, where she currently has around 860 000 followers. She is the creator of the personal training and bootcamp program, FitnessBunnie.

An ecstatic Mpisane said, ‘I chose UKZN because it’s always easier to stay grounded when you are close to home. From studying architecture to housing, it all goes back to passion in technical drawings, reading maps and enjoying practical work.’

Mpisane decided to study towards a housing and town planning degree because she initially wanted to join the family’s construction business. ‘As a young child growing up I enjoyed reading and analysing floor plans in my parents’ office.’ This led to her registering for the degree.

However, working and studying proved to be challenging for Mpisane. ‘I don’t know how many times I contemplated quitting my studies because I was so busy. Getting this degree has been a surprise to myself more than anyone. After every negative thought, I always reminded myself why I needed to complete my degree.

‘Juggling my social life, work life and private life was challenging but I always knew my priorities and school always came first before anything. The thought of making my parents proud was my biggest drive.’

Her academic years at Howard College campus were always fun and easy going. ‘I refused to let the stress get to me so I was always that student at the back of lectures, always so bubbly and easy going.’

The fitness fanatic constantly needed to travel, and finding a balance at campus was always difficult for her. ‘I definitely gave my lecturers plenty of headaches but my work was always delivered on time.

‘The highlight of my degree was in my final year. Lecturers were very supportive and hands on with the students. I can’t say they made our lives any easier but the extra push helped a lot of students like me to do our best and remain focused. I remember being in Mr Vincent Myeni’s office and crying my lungs out and all he said was “you nearly at the end, forget everything and focus on completing your studies because you will get all the time afterwards to be a diva and follow your passion in fitness”.

Mpisane found support from students in class and the friends she made during the years at University. ‘They were always willing to update me on everything I missed, help me study, gave me notes and spent lunch breaks with me which was very therapeutic. A big shout out to Nonkazi, Thembeka, Phumelele and Flabba for their extra support throughout my studies.’

Expressing gratitude to her support system, she said, ‘I want to give a big thank you to my parents for always believing in me and my friends for always keeping me sane after a long stressful week at campus.’

Mpisane believes the College of Humanities provides a grounding environment and always encourages one to be their own individual. ‘My advice to other undergraduates is that they always find a balance that works for them. Have fun while studying and your academic years will feel shorter.’

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Professor Brian Kearney and Ms Michele Jacobs with some of the drawings and work from the UKZN architecture archives that feature in The Berea Style publication.

UKZN Architecture drawings and work feature in The Berea Style

Curator of the UKZN Architecture library archives Ms Michele Jacobs and Emeritus Professor in the architecture discipline Brian Kearney recently exhibited prints of original and measured drawings of a vast array of KwaZulu-Natal buildings done by UKZN students and other architects.

From left: Mr Juan Solis (UKZN), Mr Lawrence Ogunsanya (UKZN), winner Mr Siyabonga Khuzwayo and Mr Chris Mungle (Corobrik Sales Manager, eThekwini).

UKZN students win top architectural awards

Architecture student Mr Siyabonga Khuzwayo was named winner of the Corobrik Regional Architecture Award. He received R10 000 in prize-money, with Master’s student Mr Kireshen Chetty taking the second prize of R8 000, and Mr Mthokozisi Sibisi receiving R6 000 for third place. A further R6 000 was awarded to Mr Mbuso Msipho for the innovative use of clay masonry in his building design.