Image credit: Jeffrey Abrahams
(Published - 12 December 2018)
The University of the Western Cape (UWC) celebrated the hard work and achievements of students at the University’s December 2018 graduation on Friday 14 December 2018.
During two ceremonies, UWC Rector and Vice-Chancellor Professor Tyrone Pretorius conferred 22 Doctoral degrees, 65 Master’s degrees, 6 Honours degrees, 434 Undergraduate degrees, 55 Diplomas and 212 Certificates. This year the University conferred a total of 114 Doctoral degrees, 377 Master’s degrees, 640 Honours degrees, 2855 Undergraduate degrees, 447 Diplomas and 329 Certificates to graduates who will go on to do great things in society.
“Graduation is not only an incredible milestone for our students, but a time of immense pride for parents, guardians and families. Often the academic journey is peppered with hurdles and students draw on their loved ones for strength to navigate the path that leads to the steps of the main hall of UWC – graduation hood in hand,” said Professor Pretorius.
“Congratulations to all our graduates and their families on this auspicious occasion. We are enormously proud of our students who will, without a doubt, go on to help South Africa flourish.”
A notable student is Lela Mukaruzima from Rwanda. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, her “UWC family” - in particular Professor Josè Frantz Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation - was there to support her. And when her medical insurance was suspended, UWC staff were among those who rallied to help.
“I’m in a foreign land, with no family or close friends, sitting alone in this small house and I thought to myself: ‘How am I going to survive?’ But God being God, He made a way,” said Mukaruzima.
The cancer survivor graduated with a Doctoral degree in Physiotherapy during the first session on Friday.
“I had wonderful support here at UWC with a few close friends that I had met along the way within that period. I know that many foreign nationals in this country have not had a good experience, and are not treated well; but I can honestly say that I received wonderful support both from South Africans and non-South Africans.”
Families will travelled from far and wide to attend the ceremonies - including the Mabweazaras. Siblings Smart and Rangarirai Mabweazara graduated with their PhDs on the same day. Smart specialises in Sport Science, while his sister Rangarirai graduated with a PhD in Library Sciences. They have two other siblings who have earned their Doctorates from other tertiary institutions.
Dr Charlene Erasmus, Senior Lecturer in the Unit for Child and Family Studies at UWC, was also on stage at the graduation ceremony. She capped her son, Aidan Erasmus, who has earned a Doctorate in Philosophy. In his thesis he threads the history of war and violence under apartheid through what he calls the sound object, which includes the Walkman bomb that killed ANC lawyer Bheki Mlangeni and the bell of the SS Mendi.
For UWC alumna and professional tutor, Raushan Martin, there is something truly special about UWC and the bond that is created among students and staff.
“In my time at UWC, I was fortunate to have had many opportunities including receiving bursaries and studying abroad as an undergraduate and postgraduate student,” said Martin. “I am proud to be a part of the UWC family. Not just as an alumna, but as a staff member as well.”
Nine family members have graduated from the University, including her parents.
- A Posthumous Honorary Doctorate was awarded to the late Dr Zola Skweyiya for his sterling work towards building the new South Africa. Dr Zola Skweyiya joined the University of the Western Cape in 1990 after returning to South Africa from political exile. Dr Skweyiya helped with the constitutional negotiations that would to an end the apartheid regime and usher in the birth of a democratic South Africa. After the first democratic elections in 1994, Dr Skweyiya and other colleagues – including former Rector Jakes Gerwel – were offered government positions. Dr Skweyiya was named Minister of Public Services and Administration. His last Cabinet position was Minister of Social Development. He died in April 2018.
- UWC also awarded a Gold Medal for Commitment to Community Service to Ebrahim Rhoda. He completed his MA degree in 2006 and was awarded the Division for Lifelong Learning (DLL) Senior Award by UWC after completing his MA degree Cum Laude at the age of 68. In 2009 Rhoda received the Western Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Award, in the heritage category, for his contribution to public awareness/documentation of heritage resources. Rhoda’s passion for history has fuelled his research, and his time as a school principal has helped him convey that passion to the wider community.
- The Annual Jakes Gerwel Award in Public Health went to alumnus Dr Amir Aman Hagos who became the Minister of Health of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in May 2018. As UWC Vice-Chancellor, Professor Gerwel passionately supported the development of South Africa‘s first School of Public Health, focusing on public health practice that led to measurable improvements in people's health and policy that was based on solid science. As a graduate of that School, Dr Aman has lived out those ideals, and is now spearheading the health sector transformation plan for Ethiopia. Dr Aman will deliver a public lecture at 3pm on Friday at the School of Public Health.