Spotlight on Ruan Henning: recognising excellence

4 min read   •   November 9, 2023
Kyra Roodt & Elmien Ackerman

At Impaq, we are always excited to see our learners excel – both academically and in their extramural pursuits. These Impaq Stars shine bright, but it’s an extra special feeling to celebrate our very own Ruan Henning. Ruan is the education specialist for Geography and Social Sciences at Impaq Homeschooling, who recently obtained his master’s degree cum laude from the University of Pretoria.

In October, he participated in the Association for Tourism and Leisure Education and Research (ATLAS) master’s thesis competition and was the only candidate from the global South to receive an honourable mention for his work. We chat to Ruan about this significant accomplishment and his passion for tourism.

Journey to success: why urban tourism?

Ruan enrolled for a BHCS degree in the Faculty of Humanities, where he triple majored in Heritage and Cultural Tourism, History, and Anthropology. He then completed his honour’s degree in Heritage and Cultural Tourism, as well as a postgraduate certificate in Education. Obtaining his master’s degree has long been one of Ruan’s goals to continue building on his academic aspirations. But how did he choose the topic for his thesis? “I decided to focus on urban tourism – this topic fascinates me due to its ability to bring together our complex human nature, history, and culture into one unique urban collective.”

For those not in the know, urban tourism refers to the travel and tourism activities that take place in cities and metropolitan areas and involves visiting urban destinations to explore and experience the unique cultural, historical, architectural, and recreational activities that cities have to offer. Whenever you visit a museum, check out a historical landmark, attend a concert, or even eat at a restaurant, you are engaging in urban tourism.

In his master’s thesis entitled “Urban tourism: A comparative tale of two cities, Cape Town and Tshwane”, Ruan investigates the phenomenon of urban tourism in the global South and its impact in both the City of Cape Town and the City of Tshwane. His research focuses on both capital cities’ respective tourism industries, initiatives, and strategies, and he wanted to determine whether the City of Cape Town’s approach to tourism development can be considered as a sustainable urban tourism development model for the City of Tshwane. Ruan concluded that urban tourism can indeed be used as a tool for development and address poverty issues in a sustainable manner – not just locally, but on a global scale.

Also read: Why choose Tourism as a subject?

Overcoming obstacles: an example to Impaq learners

Ruan says that furthering his academic career is a love-hate relationship: “Many times, I started doubting myself and my ability to carry on and I wanted to give up, especially when I faced research obstacles and writers’ block”. “When I felt overwhelmed, I would take a step back, give myself the chance to reset and evaluate what I was doing and what I wanted to achieve,” Ruan says. He adds that believing in himself and his abilities played a key role in his success. “Completing my master’s degree was one of the most rewarding, gratifying and fulfilling journeys I have embarked upon,” Ruan says.

His advice to aspiring students and researchers in the field of tourism is both insightful and encouraging. He highlights:

  • Passion and persistence:

Find a topic or area of study that genuinely excites you and pursue it with enthusiasm.

  • Purpose and direction:

Keep reminding yourself of your academic goals and why you started this journey. This sense of purpose can provide much-needed motivation during challenging times in your research.

  • Self-belief:

Stay confident in your abilities and believe in your potential for success. You can do it!

  • Seek help:

Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance or guidance when needed – this can be a valuable resource in your academic journey.

Read more: Master a mindset for success and ace your exams

What’s next on Ruan’s journey?

Ruan is currently pursuing a PhD in Heritage and Cultural Tourism, with further research in urban tourism. He hopes to continue growing and developing professionally.

His love for tourism also means that Ruan is constantly planning his next trip and looks forward to exploring the UK, Belgium, and the Netherlands next year. “My biggest dream is to travel around the world, immersing myself in the distinct and unique heritage, culture, and urban environment of each country,” Ruan concludes.

If you’re still trying to decide what your passion about, complete the Career Direct® assessment questionnaire to discover your unique personality, interests, skills, and values. Plus, get ongoing support from a dedicated career coach.