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Emerging Scholars Graduate from the “Self-Management” SMASP

Author: Myolisi Gophe

The University of the Western Cape hosted a graduation ceremony for the first cohort of scholars who participated in the Self-Management Academic Scholarship Programme.


(Published - 13 October 2020)

It was an emotional and joyful occasion when the first cohort of the University of the Western Cape’s Self-Management Academic Scholarship Programme (SMASP) celebrated the completion of the programme recently.

A brainchild of Professor Josè Frantz, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, SMASP was launched in 2019 to empower and develop emerging scholars and to provide them with the opportunity to engage with like-minded colleagues.

During February 2020, Prof Frantz partnered with the University’s Human Resources Staff and Organisational Development Department to deliver on the last part of the programme, which included presentations on self-support and tools for personal development. The programme was endorsed by Mr. Meko Magida, Executive Director for Human Resources and funded by the ETDP SETA. It included a coach being assigned to each of the participants and offered topics such as Resilience, Power Speaking and Communication, Energy for Performance, Career Management and People Leadership.

Reflecting on how participants have grown in the last three years of SMASP, Prof Frantz used the analogy of an eagle which goes away to the mountains to embark on a process of rebirth when it reaches 40 years in order to live for 30 more years. “The moral of the story is transformation and determination, which is what I see in this group. Many of you said you have been at UWC for a while and you have not developed to your full potential. I said let’s give it a try and see how it goes.”

The eagle story, which is fictional, has many life lessons that are related to the group, she said. The eagle flies alone or with birds of the same kind, thus associating with people who will help you grow. “Always remember to associate yourself with people who have helped you. People in your so-called inner-circle, whom you can talk to in order to go through life challenges.” 

Another lesson, according to Prof Frantz, is that for the eagle to catch its prey it focuses on it with intensity. “Focus on one thing to complete at a time. I’m not saying you should have blinkers all the time. But if you have goals focus on those goals to accomplish them. There will be situations to detract you but don’t lose sight. If you can focus you can achieve. That is what I have found in this group”.

Prof Frantz also called on the graduates to see challenges as opportunities, just as the eagles get excited about the storm and then fly above the storm. “Let’s see challenges as opportunities to build ourselves personally and professionally. They will make us strong.”

In her address, Prof Frantz reminded participants to establish trust in all partnerships. “We met as strangers but we have built trust among each other to share information that benefited us.”

Prof Frantz encouraged the graduates to pass on the skills and knowledge they have absorbed from the programme to others. “You have the skills to make a difference in your space. We developed you as all-rounder scholars with skills to lead and coach others. It’s now time to pay it forward. We can reach so many people, and if you can multiply that with students and colleagues, that would be leaving a legacy”.

Participants hail the programme as a “life-altering experience”, expressing gratitude to the University for the opportunity. “When I entered the institution eight years ago I found that I was just a staff number, like a barcode. Here is your pack, go and teach,” said Mujeeb Hoosen. “Then I found that we are in a field of natural medicine and health sciences and we speak about a holistic model. But I didn't see those aspects in academia.

“However, when I was fortunate enough to be enrolled in this programme, for the first time I felt like a staff member, not a number. My take home as a leader: I would have to know my teammates very well, understand and appreciate diversity. That there are different personalities and everybody can excel in their positions”.

Lemay Llorente Quesada agrees and says one of her key highlights in the past few months was the session on the power of speaking. “It taught us how to communicate in a proper and effective manner. It is not about being bombastic and it’s not about being forward with your thoughts. But it is about trying to be persuasive, and obviously, engaging with your audience and keeping them interested.”

Nuraan Davids-Latief adds that SMASP has also given her an opportunity to take a step back and forget about professionalism and trying to prove herself at work. “This programme has really flipped the coin for me in terms of shining a light on what is important, because if I’m not OK I can’t be efficient at work”.

In closing the ceremony, UWC Director of Human Resources, Elvida Sias, thanked the participants for committing to the programme as well as to all stakeholders that made it a possibility. She saluted the leadership of Prof Frantz and told her: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. Thanks for being the leader that invests your time and resources in all levels of staff to unlock their potential.”


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