‘Growth of character’ celebrated at UCT graduation

28 March 2024 | Story Kamva Somdyala. Photos Robyn Walker. Read time 3 min.
UCT students celebrate their qualifications at graduation.
UCT students celebrate their qualifications at graduation.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) celebrated excellence over a five-day graduation period, capping 4 850 students and awarding 26 PhD degrees.

The ceremonies began on Saturday, 23 March, and by the time the last ceremony ends on Thursday, 28 March, the university would have also conferred honorary doctorates on four individuals who have made exceptional contributions to their respective fields.

Writing to the UCT community, Vice-Chancellor interim Emeritus Professor Daya Reddy extended warm wishes to graduands: “Your commitment to academic excellence and personal growth has been exemplary, and your achievements are a testament to your hard work and determination.”

He added: “As graduates of a premier university in Africa and the world, you have received a high-quality education that equips you to make meaningful contributions to society. I urge you to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead and to use your knowledge and skills to effect positive change in the world. Your success is a source of pride for yourselves, your families, our university, and the broader community.

“Thank you for choosing UCT as your academic home. Your presence has enriched our campus community, and your achievements have contributed to our university’s legacy of excellence.”

Various members of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) took turns to read the The University Dedication throughout the different ceremonies in the Sarah Baartman Hall, with SRC president Hlamulo Khorommbi taking the lead during the Faculty of Commerce’s first ceremony on Saturday: 

“At this time of celebration we, the members of UCT, reaffirm our mission: to nurture rational and creative thought and free enquiry; to strive for excellence in teaching and research; to educate for life; and to address the challenges of our society. We undertake to advance these ideals in a spirit of freedom and responsibility and through consultation and debate. We celebrate our founders, benefactors, and predecessors: those who have built the fabric and nourished the values of UCT”.

Some of UCT’s new graduates celebrate new-found success.

“To those who will leave the university to learn and work elsewhere, may you be sustained by those values which unite us here today and advance them in the world beyond.”

Giving acclaim to students through praise poetry, Neliswa Sampi said: “Now rise above, for today, you have received your wings.”

Best of South African potential

Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning Professor Linda Ronnie presided over the first ceremony: “In every graduation season we announce the number of academic degrees we are awarding. But the numbers do not express the growth in your character. You may not realise the skills you have developed at UCT, in addressing challenges and meeting goals; in critical thinking, working with others, solving problems, and stretching your creativity.

“UCT is sending you out not just as academic achievers but also as potential leaders. We know you will grow into your future because we have seen your growth here. And we know you will have many opportunities to exercise and grow your leadership skills. Our world needs strong leadership. We are entrusting our future to you. And we are proud to do so – not just because you represent UCT’s excellence in teaching, learning and research, but because you represent the best of South African potential.”

A rousing applause and ululations erupted from the audience when popular Afro-Soul-Jazz artist Mandisi Dyantyis’s name was called during the Faculty of Humanities’ second ceremony on Monday. He was graduated with a Master’s degree in music with distinction.

In wrapping celebrations, UCT Chancellor Precious Moloi-Motsepe reminded the graduates that they were taking with them the university’s Vision 2030 mission of “unleashing human potential for a fair and just society”.

“I invite you to commit to three things; first, commit to exploration, feed your curiosity, read about things that interest you and share what you learn with others. Secondly, commit to lifelong learning, listen to people who think differently from you and show them respect. And finally, commit to serving others: lift as you rise. When you lift others, you’ll realise that they will lift you in return in ways you never imagined,” Moloi-Motsepe said.

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