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30 June 2020
UWC Academic Achievers’ Awards 2020: Honouring Excellence, Celebrating Success in Learning, Teaching and Community Engagement at UWC

“Teaching, learning and community engagement - along with research and social justice - are the central academic pillars of the University of the Western Cape’s mission, vision and values. Therefore it is important that our academic and support staff who excel in any of these functions are publicly recognised and suitably rewarded.”

It’s for this reason that Professor Vivienne Lawack, UWC’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic and Acting Vice-Chancellor, took the time to celebrate the University’s first ever Virtual Academic Achievers Awards on 26 June 2020, recognising staff and students for excellence in teaching, learning and community engagement.

Prof Lawack initiated the UWC Academic Achievers’ Awards in 2017, and the ceremony has become an annual event. 

“In the midst of the COVID-19 challenge, some might think it is inappropriate to have awards at such a time,” Prof Lawack noted. “But we actually feel this is the perfect time to give recognition to those who achieved remarkable things as students and staff, and who went above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of others.”

The Excellence in Learning Awards at the ceremony recognises the best first-year, final-year and Honours students from each faculty based on weighted averages. Institutional Learning Awards are presented to the best student in each of these categories. The Excellence in Teaching Awards are awarded to staff who are nominated by their faculty in the categories of Excellent Lecturer and Excellent Emerging Lecturer, respectively. The awards for Community Engagement are comprised of the Individual Community Engagement Award and the Team Community Engagement Award.

The Learning Awards were presented by Ms Sazi Tshangana and Mr Larnelle Lewies - two students who were in the 2018 cohort of the Accelerated Excellence Programme. For students (all for the 2019 academic year), Ifunanya Florence Nnamani was the Best Overall First-Year, Nazo Sitshwele the Best Final-Year Student, and Jaymi January the Best Honours Student.

The Community Engagement (CE) Excellence Awards were presented by Prof Priscilla Daniels, Director of UWC’s Community Engagement Unit, who presented two individual awards to Dr Muneer Abduroaf and Prof Renier Coetzee.

A Community Engagement Team Excellence award was also presented to the UWC Law Clinic, led by Mr Shamiel Jassiem and his students and partners.

“The Law Clinic is a core service learning facility, which serves as a bridge between the University and the community and is visible in the communities,” Prof Daniels explained. “Their academic merit and commitment to CE is rooted in relevance through the importance of integrating discipline-specific knowledge with community engagement.”

Dr Anita Maurtin, Director: Strategic Academic Projects in the Office of the DVC: Academic, thanked the presenters for their words, praised the awardees for their achievements, and honoured the supporters who had helped enable those achievements - family, friends, loved ones, and more.

“We are facing unprecedented times - times that we’ve never been through before, and may never experience again,” she said. “And in these times we often hear, ‘This too shall pass’. And it will. But there is also a saying that goes, ‘It passes, and until then, it teaches’. And this lockdown period has taught us many lessons - two that come to mind are the lessons of gratitude, and of reflection.”

For that, she noted, it is important that we take care of our physical, emotional and mental health, and enhance our resilience with times of celebration, and enjoyment.

“This is one of those times when we celebrate with you, and we celebrate for you,” she told recipients. “When you achieve, UWC achieves.”

And with that, the virtual dance floor was opened.

Want to know more? View the Academic Achievers’ Awards 2020 now.

And The Winners Are...

The Academic Achievers Awards 2020 honoured many of the University’s best students for 2019 including:

Best First-Year-Student
Ifunanya Florence Nnamani (Faculty of Community and Health Sciences): 86.63% - Bachelor of Nursing

Best Final-Year Student
Nazo Sitshwele (Faculty of Natural Sciences): 88.31% - BSc in Chemistry

Best Honours Student
Jaymi January (Faculty of Natural Sciences): 88.31% - BSc Hons in Chemistry

Best First-Year Student per Faculty


Best First-Year Student

Degree / Course

Weighted Average


Tauhira Ahjam

Bachelor of Arts


Community and Health Sciences

Ifunanya Florence Nnamani

Bachelor of Nursing 



Tumelo Mogaila

Bachelor of Oral Health



Nigel Green

Bachelor of Education in Mathematics & Natural Science


Economic and Management Sciences

Cleo Khan

Bachelor of Commerce in Law



Christian de Jaeger

Bachelor of Laws


Natural Sciences

Magdalena van Lille 

Bachelor of Pharmacy


Best Final-Year (Undergraduate) Student per Faculty


Best Final-Year Student

Degree / Course

Weighted Average


Joshua Gaylard

Bachelor of Arts


Community and Health Sciences

Jemma Houghton

Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy 



Tayla Malherbe

Bachelor of Dentistry Science



Cindy Lee Amsterdam

Bachelor of Education in Mathematics & Natural Science


Economic and Management Sciences

Fabian Pieterse

Bachelor of Commerce



Tyrone Roode

Bachelor of Laws


Natural Sciences

Nazo Sitshwele

Bachelor of Science in Chemistry


Best Honours Student per Faculty


Best Honours Student

Degree / Course

Weighted Average


Chevan van Rooi

BA Hons in Linguistics


Community and Health Sciences

Tracy-Lee Olivier

BA Hons in Psychology


Economic and Management Sciences

Boitumelo Papane

BA Hons in Political Studies


Natural Sciences

Jaymi January

BSc Hons in Chemistry


Faculty Excellent Lecturer Awards

  • Dentistry: Dr Farzana Karjiker
  • Education: Dr Colette February
  • Economic and Management Sciences: Mrs Rochelle Beukes 
  • Natural Sciences: Prof Okobi Ekpo

Faculty Emerging Excellent Lecturer Awards

  • Arts: Dr Erin Pretorius & Dr Jonathan Jodamus
  • Community and Health Science: Ms Danelle Hess
  • Dentistry: Dr Carmen Gordon
  • Education: Dr Nosisi Dlamini
  • Economic and Management Sciences: Mr Charles Adams
  • Law: Ms Lisa Draga
  • Natural Sciences: Dr Christina (Retha) Kotze

Academic Excellence in Community Engagement Awards

  • Individual Award: Dr Muneer Abduroaf (Faculty of Law)
  • Individual Award: Prof Renier Coetzee (School of Pharmacy)
  • Team Award: UWC Law Clinic (Shamiel Jassiem, Demi Johannisen, partners, students)