Thousands of first-year students have officially commenced their academic journey at Stellenbosch University (SU).
On Thursday evening, the University hosted its annual Welcoming event, which included the signature Dream Walk. The event formed part of the University's Welcoming Programme, which has been adapted to a comprehensive two-week programme and focuses on providing a transformative student experience within the provisions of COVID-19 protocols.
During the Dream Walk, students, who walked in groups of 50, passed underneath a banner hanging over Victoria Street, which symbolically marked the moment that they start their academic journey at SU. Students also attached cards with their hand-written dreams on one of the trees lining Victoria Street.
In his virtual welcoming address on Thursday evening, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers commended the class of 2021 for preserving.
“Well done! We're proud of you! We would also like to thank all who have helped you to get to where are today – your parents, your schools and the rest of the community. Now the pleasure of accompanying you further on this path is ours," he said.
“Students, you've shown grit and determination, agility and resilience … qualities that will stand you in good stead as you take on the challenges and opportunities of this next stage of your life's journey.
“You are entering a wonderful phase – a time that, in years to come, you will most probably remember as the best years of your life. You will be exposed to new knowledge and led on a journey of discovery by excellent mentors, teachers and researchers at this world-class higher education institution with its top facilities."De Villiers also informed students that they have access to an extensive network at SU, from the student leaders and mentors in residences or PSOs, to lecturers and other staff in faculty and the administrative units of the University, including the dedicated Division of Student Affairs.
“Don't hesitate to ask for help. It's not a sign of weakness, but of strength. We're all in this together, and we will go forward with you.
“That is also how we will overcome the pandemic – by working together. If each one of us takes responsibility for our own actions, we will be able to keep our campuses open. And thus, not only the University but also the surrounding communities and businesses, will be able to flourish," he said.
Xola Njengele, Chairperson of the Stellenbosch Student Representative Council encouraged the class of 2021 to use this new chapter to take charge of their individual stories.
“This is a time whereby you also learn way more about those around you and your surroundings as well. The learnings will not always be some marvellous epiphany, no, it is most times quite small and clear, like listening or just pronouncing someone's name correctly."
He also emphasised the available student support at SU and said the SRC wanted each Matie to have a favourable experience throughout their time at SU.
“In fact, our vision, which states 'We strive to be a productive and integrated structure that encourages holistic student success and produces tangible results,' really speaks to how much of an impact we hope to have on all students."