In celebration of excellence, a total of 92 Stellenbosch University (SU) students were honoured at the annual Rector's Awards for Excellent Achievement on Wednesday night (30 October 2019).
The evening focussed on students who excelled in areas ranging from academics, sports and culture to social impact and co-curricular. In his opening address, Professor Arnold Schoonwinkel, Vice Rector: Learning and Teaching, said students played an important role in maintaining an excellent, thriving and inclusive culture at SU.
He said the aim of the night was to recognise excellence. “The competition was tough and tonight you will meet highly meritorious students. We will reward students who have made a positive difference at SU, and these students are likely to make a significant contribution in our South Africa."
Prof Wim de Villiers, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor, said the Rector's Awards ceremony was one of his personal highlights in the SU calendar. “Tonight we recognise excellence; it is an honour and privilege for us to take this journey with you," he said.
Keynote speaker at the event Dr Nthabiseng Moleko received the SRC Award for Exceptional Alumni.
Moleko was appointed as a Commissioner for the Commission for Gender Equality by the former President of South Africa in 2017. She currently serves as the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission. Moleko was also the first black South African appointed as a faculty member at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) where she currently teaches Economics and Statistics.
Addressing the student achievers, Moleko said, “You are all leaders here tonight.
“Our country needs a different type of leadership, a leadership that is concerned and interested in the development of our country. We need leaders who will serve all South Africans; we need ethical leadership, a leadership that will ensure that we do not have a repeat of our past."
She added that redress was necessary in a country like South Africa.
Moleko said the responsibility to fix and repair South Africa was not only the government's responsibility, but also that of those who have the money and resources to do so.
“We desperately need leaders who will drive a different agenda, we need a new system – with inclusivity and a new class of thinkers. This is for both young and old as we have seen how old systems have failed and the outcomes are reflected in the state we find our communities in.
“My message to you tonight: Do not be afraid to do something that has never been done, we need alternative methods and systems of doing things in this country."
She said doing small projects at two or three schools would not remedy the state our country was in. “Apartheid was implemented and rolled out nationally, it was big. This means we have to do good in a similar or greater scale, the good needs to exceed the bad," she said.
Moleko holds an Honours degree in Business Science (Economics) from the University of Cape Town and an MPhil in Development Finance from the University of Stellenbosch Business School. She completed her PhD in Development Finance at USB in April.
She is also an author and avid poet. She has published three books: Career Guidance and Technical Training: A solution for youth unemployment and two anthologies of poetry (Abundant Living and Been Chasing Destiny). Since 2010, she has been actively involved in youth development mainly in rural areas and townships, using career guidance and poetry.