No less than 42 graduates whose academic potential had been unlocked thanks to the Extended Degree Programme (EDP) in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU), received their qualifications at the University's December 2019 graduation ceremonies this week.
Of the 42 EDP graduates, 19 of the students received distinctions during their studies at SU. One of those students, Tammy Jefthas, received 18 distinctions and will be doing a MA (Geography and Environmental Studies) next year.
“The EDP is a wonderful opportunity to not only gain a degree but offers much more. It sees the potential in students and sometimes even before a student sees it in themselves. My field of study presented to me the opportunity to grapple with current pressing geographical issues and I see myself using my knowledge gained to make a difference in society," says Jefthas.
SU launched the EDP in 2008 to help deal with systemic obstacles to equity and student success and to assist students with additional academic support.
According to Alex Zeeman, who managed to obtain no less than 16 distinctions during her studies, the EDP programme was a lifesaver after she received poor matric results. “I thought my life was over, but the lesson that university has taught me is that you're stronger than you think you are."
For Vuyolwethu Qinela, who obtained nine distinctions during her studies, the programme not only helped her excel academically, but also gave her the opportunity to do an exchange abroad.
“I was an average student in high school, so I never thought that I could achieve anything greater than just passing. The Extended Degree Programme, I believe, gave me a better advantage over mainstream students in that I was given foundational modules that covered all topics that are covered in most social science modules, while also improving my critical thinking skills," says Qinela.
Tamaryn Taylor Fourie from Eerste River says one of the highlights of being a student at SU for her is the fact that many doors were opened and that she had many opportunities. “Some amazing highlights would be when I had the opportunity in 2017 to travel to Johannesburg to represent the University at the Cradle of Humankind as part of the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation. I was able to engage with other like-minded individuals and expand my network. In 2018, I was inducted into the Golden Key International Honour Society," says Fourie.
In addition to this, Fourie had the opportunity to travel to Germany as an international student at the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen, which is one of SU's partner institutions.
Through the EDP, Fourie was also able to impact many lives by being a mentor and senior mentor for first-year EDP students, class representative on the PSO committee and a member of other campus-wide societies and organisations.
EDP and mainstream students obtain the same degrees after completion of their undergraduate studies. The only difference is that EDP students do their first year over two years. Over and above their mainstream subjects, EDP students take modules that prepare them better for their graduate studies, such as Texts in the Humanities, Information Skills and Introduction to the Humanities.
The EDP programme is open to students who are interested in studying towards a Bachelor's degree with an average of 60–64,9% in their National Senior Certificate (NSC). Extensive extra-curricular support is also integrated into the academic offering to enhance student success.
Prospective students, who want to read more about the EDP, can consult the EDP website at http://www.sun.ac.za/english/faculty/arts/edp/home
In the photo from left, Vuyolwethu Qinela, Tamaryn Taylor Fourie and Alex Zeeman.
Photo by Stefan Els.