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13 December 2022
UWC Summer Graduation blossoming with success
The Summer Graduation at the University of the Western Cape is a special event, and there are many success stories of graduates who have overcome adversity on their academic journey.

Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tyrone Pretorius, said: “This is our last graduation ceremony for the year, and we are happy to be able to share in the celebrations and achievements of our graduates. Congratulations to the class of 2022, and thank you for choosing UWC as your academic home.”

He added: “Graduation ceremonies are important in many ways. For instance, it is a time to take stock and assess the return on the investment made in your studies.”

One such important story is the academic journey of Farheen Palekar, who completed her BA in Oral Hygiene and will graduate on Thursday, 15 December 2022.


At an early age, Farheen (pictured) was diagnosed with dyslexia. As a result, her primary and high school career was not easy, and she attended ten schools because her educational requirements were never fully met. She explained: “I did Quran Studies, and when I completed it I questioned what was my purpose in the world? I realised that I wanted to do something in the Health Sciences field, because I love giving back to the community.”

In 2020 she enrolled at UWC, but even her tertiary education was not without its challenges. She had been accepted at another university, but they ultimately declined her application because she disclosed that she had dyslexia: “I was told I wouldn’t be able to cope with the academic pressure,” said Farheen.

Her sister, Mehreen Palekar, was a pillar of strength for her and would help her read her assignments and prepare for exams. Farheen also had the assistance of the Centre for Student Support Services (CSSS) at UWC which she credits as being key to her success.

“I got extra time, spelling dispensation and wrote the final exams at the CSSS offices,” said Farheen. She added that she was initially naive but soon realised she was on the right track.

“Every three years you need to do an assessment with an educational psychologist, because I actually believed you could outgrow your dyslexia.”

Farheen is also the first university graduate in her family, which is another reason she worked tirelessly to get her degree. “I have proved to the world that no matter what your disadvantages or disabilities you can do anything if you put your mind to it. I honestly believe that your mind is your most powerful weapon. I didn’t give up because I knew what my goal was,” said Farheen.
The Director of the Centre for Student Support Services (CSSS), Laetitia Permall, is proud of Farheen and all students, especially those with disabilities who achieve academic success. She said that it’s never a one size fits all approach to the support that they offer.

“When a student applies to register with the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSwD) to access specialised support, an assessment is conducted to determine the specific needs for the disability the student is registered for. The reasonable accommodations required are unique for each individual, so the assessment report is critical to meet the students where they are.”

The CSSS is exploring more proactive enablers to support the special learning and mental health needs of students in a manner that ensures that they see themselves as co-creators of their success, Permall said: “In 2021 the Integrated Student Mental Health and Wellness policy was approved, and a priority now is to develop a university wide implementation plan that also takes specific departmental contextual factors into account. A priority of the plan is to integrate strategies to assist students to break down the stigma of mental health and disability so that students understand that the sooner they disclose their disabilities, whether visible or invisible, the sooner requisite support can be put in place for them in collaboration with the relevant faculty.”


Colleen Cozett CHS Prof. Susan Bassett (Department of Sport, Recreation and Exercise Science) Development of guidelines for adolescents and parents to increase adolescent participation physical activity
There are no clear strategies available for parents to improve adolescent involvement in physical activity. Using a sequential mixed methods approach with Grade 9 learners from five public high schools in Mitchell’s Plain, physical activity status, level of parental involvement, barriers/facilitators and preferred physical activities of the adolescents were determined. As a result of the data collected, Mrs Cozett developed a framework for the guidelines. The final guidelines were presented to adolescents, parents, a panel of experts, and stakeholders in communities for input, consensus and consolidation. As a result, six guidelines with 52 subcategories emerged. Parents can use these guidelines as a resource to support adolescents in increasing physical activity participation.
Rifqah Abeed Roomaney CHS Prof Brian van Wyk 
(School of Public Health)
Burden of multimorbidity in South Africa: Implications for health policy and service delivery One in five adults living in South Africa (SA) is multimorbid – that is, live with two or more chronic conditions. This finding received wide recognition in the national broadcast and social media. Ms Roomaney analysed the three most recent national survey data sets to determine the prevalence and patterns of multimorbidity amongst SA adults. The most common disease clusters were Hypertension, co-occurring with HIV and Diabetes. She also found that multimorbidity was more prevalent among older adults (over 50 years) and females. Her doctoral work produced eight peer-reviewed journal publications, of which six were in the top 25% of Public Health journals.
Ali Mohamed Balbout Nouh Natural Sciences Prof Edmund Pool (Department of Medical Biosciences) Proteome profiling as tool to determine the effectiveness of traditional Africa therapies
for type 2 diabetes mellitus
Type 2 diabetes is a very common chronic disease in Africa. Several traditional African herbs are currently used for treatment and management of diabetes. Very few scientific studies have been done to investigate the long-term benefits and risks associated with these treatments. Ali’s study focussed on characterization of chemical bio-actives in four commonly used herbs for diabetes treatment, and also the effects of these herbs on chronic inflammation associated with diabetes. In his studies Ali showed the presence of several novel bio-active compounds in these herbs and he also showed that Artemisia afra (commonly known as als or wormwood in South Africa) can inhibit the inflammation associated with diabetes and potentially improve the longer-term quality of life of diabetics.
Deborah Louise Sinclair CHS Prof. Wouter Vanderplasschen Recovery and substitute addictions in the Western Cape, South Africa:
A multi-perspective approach
This multiple-method study reviewed the available literature on substitute addiction in people with SUDs,  explored the experience of substitute addiction from a first-person perspective, investigated the prevalence of substitute addiction and associated factors among service users, explored recovery support group members’ perceptions and experiences of substitute addictions and explored service providers’ perceptions of substitute addiction. This is the first study on substitute addictions in a low-income context which renders the findings highly relevant for research, policy and practice. It addresses gaps in the literature and encourages service providers, researchers and stakeholders to extend the work on this clinically pertinent consideration for addiction recovery.
All the Summer Graduation 2022 PhD graduates' citations are available in the two graduation booklets, click the buttons below to read them: