Welcome to Stellenbosch University

​SU Students' News



March graduation ceremonies graduation ceremoniesCorporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking<p>​Stellenbosch University (SU) will award 3055 qualifications at its March graduation series, which will take place from Monday 27 March to Friday 31 March 2023. </p><p>The March graduation brings to close the University’s 2022 graduation cycle, which saw a total of 5 587 qualifications awarded at the December 2022 graduation. The 3055 qualifications to be awarded in March 2023 will bring the total number of qualifications awarded for the 2022 year to 8642. <br></p><p> <strong>Honorary doctorates<br></strong></p><p>SU will award an honorary doctorate at the March graduation ceremony to Dr Uma Lele. The University’s honorary doctorates are a way of acknowledging the remarkable work of individuals who are regarded as role models and an inspiration to Stellenbosch graduates.</p><p>Lele, who will be awarded the degree Doctor of Science in Agriculture (DScAgric), honoris causa, is a leader in the field of economic development. Over five decades, Lele, who is an independent scholar and development economist, has accumulated a wealth of experience in research, operations, policy analysis and evaluation at the World Bank, universities and international organisations. </p><p> <strong>Congratulations </strong></p><p>SU’s Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Wim de Villiers, congratulated the March graduands in advance. </p><p>De Villiers said the main goal of enrolling at university, firstly, is to graduate, and this is exactly what the March graduands has achieved. “This must be celebrated, so I want to say well done to you and everyone who has championed you along the way.</p><p>“Secondly, your qualification from Stellenbosch University will open doors, no matter where you are in the world. Despite the challenges of last year, our international reputation is more than intact. We’ve built strong networks and purposeful partnerships, and the international community is keen to see what impact our graduates will have,” he said.</p><p>De Villiers encouraged graduands to continue to live by SU’s values – excellence, compassion, equity, respect and accountability. He also encouraged graduands to stay in touch with the University through its alumni network. </p><p>“SU will always be your academic home, and a strong alumni network is not only beneficial for our University but will also enhance your professional development going forward.”</p><ul><li>This year, the March graduation series will take place at the Coetzenburg athletics stadium, and not the Coetzenburg Centre, which is currently undergoing essential renovations. </li><li>The ceremonies will be livestreamed at <a href="/english/Pages/Streaming.aspx" target="_blank"></a>. </li><li>Click here to <a href="/english/students/Pages/Graduation.aspx" target="_blank">find out more about the March graduations</a>. </li></ul>
Stellenbosch University remains firmly committed to human rights, dignity, multilingualism and inclusivity University remains firmly committed to human rights, dignity, multilingualism and inclusivity Corporate Communication and Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking<p>​Stellenbosch University (SU) takes cognisance of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) Report on language in SU residences. “Human dignity is non-negotiable at SU and must be respected and upheld. SU was disappointed by the incidences that came to light and notes the recommendations of the SAHRC report on language at SU. I am on record as having apologised to anyone who may have been negatively affected by these incidences. SU remains steadfastly committed to advancing human rights, multilingualism and inclusiveness for all its students, staff and stakeholders and are continuously evolving to emphasise this mindset and compliance with the SU Language Policy (2021)". <br></p><p>This is the response of Prof Wim de Villiers, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor, to the findings by the SAHRC in the matter pertaining to claims that there was a prohibition on the use of Afrikaans in certain SU residences during the 2021 welcoming period.   </p><p>SU notes that the Commission states that the 2016 Language Policy [the previous Language Policy] would not allow any student to be prohibited from speaking their language of choice in residences. Furthermore, according to the SAHRC report, there is not “a blatant and concentrated ban on Afrikaans inspired and motivated by a concerted effort from the Respondent [SU] and certain individuals in university management to eradicate Afrikaans from SU."   </p><p>Notwithstanding this, in his apology, the Rector noted that “if there were students who were instructed not to use Afrikaans in a social context, “it is wrong", it was not the policy of the university, and that SU is committed to an ongoing investigation and rectification process. Many positive actions aligned with the remedial actions recommended by the Commission have already been undertaken, such as emphasising that in the spirit of multilingualism there should be no prohibition on the use of any language including Afrikaans. Further planned actions include ongoing training for residence heads and student leaders that are in line with the remedial actions in the report.    <br></p><p>“I am on record as stating that SU's multilingual journey is not easy. Mistakes are inevitable and we will learn from them towards charting a progressive multilingual and inclusive South African 21st century university. Within this context the University has already acted since the first reports about the use of language in a particular residence that came to the fore in 2021 – as was acknowledged by the Commission," says Prof De Villiers.   </p><p>“This, together with other initiatives that the University is currently offering to enhance the welcoming and inclusive nature of our institution, will go a long way in safeguarding the rights and privileges of all our stakeholders," says Prof De Villiers.  <br></p><p>“SU recognises that transformation is multifaceted and for it to be embedded, systemic and effective, it needs to be addressed in a multifaceted manner. It has been an ongoing journey for past two decades. This process is messy, difficult and asks for self-reflection. We will continue this journey and when and where necessary, focus on closing the gap between policy and practice, commitments and lived experiences. Our aim is to continue to contribute to solutions to the betterment of society." <br></p><p>The various aspects of transformation which SU addresses, include structural transformation; an emphasis on values; institutional culture; policies and plans; the student and human resources profile; research and social impact; partnerships; and the health and wellbeing of staff and students.  <br></p><p>Prof Deresh Ramjugernath, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Learning and Teaching, echoed Prof De Villiers' sentiments: “While we don't necessarily agree with all the factual findings of the report at this early stage, the University will now consider the Commission's findings, proposed remedial actions and recommendations in detail and also consider its actions going forward."  </p><p>​He added: “SU is acutely aware of the importance of student leaders being informed about the Language Policy and the use of language on campus, residences and social spaces. The Commission's interpretation of how events unfolded and how language is used in residences are noted as we continuously evaluate the use of language across the campus, as well as in mproving the language policy implementation".     <br></p><p>Read the SAHRC report <a href="" style="text-decoration:underline;">here</a><br></p><p> <br> </p><p>Photo: Anton Jordaan<br></p><p>  </p> <iframe src="" title="YouTube video player" width="100%" height="415" frameborder="0"></iframe>
Newcomer Maties make a big impact Maties make a big impactCorporate Communication and Marketing (Hannelie Booyens) | Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking <p></p><p>On Thursday (9 February 2022) morning the hall of Academia residence at Stellenbosch University (SU) was turned into a very efficient sandwich-making factory. Under the watchful eye of Academia Primaria Katey Wijnburg, two teams of students competed to prepare the most sandwiches for a good cause. Thanks to all their efforts, a total of 750 peanut butter and jam sandwiches were donated to the disaster unit of Stellenbosch municipality as part of Stellenbosch University's annual Social Impact community morning. <br></p><p>Wijnberg said there was considerable enthusiasm for the project from newcomers. “Everyone is in good spirits and eager to make a contribution. Our main goal is to help communities that struggle to make ends meet. We get to know people we wouldn't otherwise meet and the drive creates awareness of how small acts of kindness can have a big impact," Wijnberg said. Academia students also made donations to the Stellenbosch Hospice Shop and students' creativity was channelled into weaving small mats out of plastic bags in aid of Maties Paw.  </p><p>Students from Huis Visser and Heemstede residences reached out to the Animal Welfare Society of Stellenbosch where they took a few very happy dogs for a walk, while residences such as Wilgenhof and Silene PSO applied their energy to further an ecological cause when they assisted the Helderberg Ocean Awareness Movement with a beach clean-up.  </p><p>The spirit of goodwill and camaraderie was felt across town as more than 5 000 students volunteered for a number of organisations, educational facilities and initiatives such as Rise Against Hunger, Eco-Sistas, Thuma Mina, the Stellenbosch Night Shelter and Engineers without Borders. These social impact endeavours, which will continue throughout the year, are aimed at introducing community development initiatives to all new students and building on the culture of enhancing social impact at SU. </p><p>The drive is hosted by the Division for Social Impact together with the Centre for Student Communities in the Division of Student Affairs at SU.​<br></p>
Welcome Maties class of 2023 Maties class of 2023 Corporate Communication and Marketing (Hannelie Booyens) | Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking <p>​​​​Coetzenburg's Danie Craven stadium was filled with a joyous buzz as first-year students and their families attended Stellenbosch University's (SU) annual official welcoming ceremony on Thursday, 2 February 2023.<br></p><p>The newcomers formed a maroon wave in the packed stadium as they showed the class of 2023 is already inspired and motivated to take on the challenges of varsity life.</p><p>Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers shared the excitement of the students, saying after the Covid-19 protocols of the past years it's a joy to address a stadium full of people. “This year we're back in full force," De Villiers exclaimed to thunderous applause.</p><p>This year, new staff who started from February 2022 onwards, first-time Matie postgraduate students and postdoctoral students also attended the welcoming ceremony.</p><p><strong>Values</strong></p><p>Addressing the new cohort of Maties, De Villiers highlighted the values of the University – excellence, compassion, accountability, respect and equity, and encouraged students to use these values as a compass during their time at university. </p><p>He also spoke about the University's goal to be an inclusive space where human rights are prioritised and where people of all backgrounds are welcome. “The idea that Stellenbosch University is a place for a certain group of people is long gone. This place is yours," De Villiers said.</p><p>De Villiers congratulated students on being accepted to study at SU in a year the University received a record number of applications. “You made the cut. So be proud! Give yourself a pat on the back, you've earned it."</p><p>But he reminded the newcomers to also stay humble and focused. “You all have specific skills and talents that you bring to the table, and we're eager to see what your contribution will be. We'll be there for you all the way, but it's up to you to make your dreams come true," he said.</p><p>Students were also reminded that they are not “attending university alone".</p><p>“We have an extensive network to support you – from the student leaders and mentors in your residence and in your clusters, to the lecturers and other staff in your faculty and the administrative units of the University, including our dedicated Division of Student Affairs," he said.</p><p>The new cohort of Maties was also encouraged to make time for extracurricular activities. “Join interesting societies; explore the countryside; make friends that will broaden your horizons; choose a student experience that will transform you. It's all there for the taking."</p><p><strong>You belong here</strong></p><p>SRC chairperson Masilo Silokazi welcomed the newcomers with inspirational words focused on the importance of inclusivity and diversity on campus. </p><p>Silokazi explained how she has since worked towards creating positive change so that every student feels like they belong. “A feeling of belonging only comes with the knowledge that despite being black, queer and a woman – my blood runs maroon because I am a Matie, and I am proud to be a Matie. And that pride can only come with the certainty and confidence that I belong here, that we all belong here," Silokazi said.</p><p>She led the first years in taking a pledge towards empowering themselves and their fellow students and holding each other to high standards of inclusivity, fairness and equality.</p><p>During the welcoming ceremony, the newcomer students were also introduced to the SU Rectorate, members of senior management, the SRC, the Tygerberg Student Representative Council, the Military Academy Student Council, the Academic Affairs Council, the Societies Council Executive Committee, cluster convenors and the Prim Committees<br><br></p><ul><li>Newcomers will commence with classes on 13 February, which will also mark the official start of the University's 2023 academic year.<br></li></ul><div>*Image: Stefan Els<br></div>
SU welcoming period commences this week welcoming period commences this weekCorporate Communication and Marketing | Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking <p>​​Stellenbosch University's (SU) official Welcoming Period kicks off this week. This year, SU has cast its net wider and will be including newcomer students and new staff members in the official Welcoming Period, which will run from Tuesday 31 January until Saturday 11 February 2023.<br></p><p>This year, newcomer first-years, new staff who started from February 2022 onwards, first-time Matie postgraduate students and postdoctoral students are invited to the official welcoming ceremony. Students from our other campuses on Tygerberg and Military Science also join the annual event.</p><p>The welcoming ceremony will take place in the Danie Craven stadium where everyone will be officially welcomed in person by Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers as well as SRC chair Masilo Silokazi on Thursday 2 February. Family and friends are also invited to join in the celebrations.</p><p>At this ceremony, participants will be introduced to the University management, student leaders, house committee members and fellow students.</p><p><strong>Welcoming Programme</strong>​</p><p>The welcoming event marks the official start of the University's Welcoming Period, comprising a comprehensive and fully integrated <a href="/english/welcome"><strong>programme of welcoming activiti</strong><strong>es</strong> </a>during the first two weeks of February. During this time, newcomers are introduced to all aspects of campus and student life, including academic programmes and the wide range of student support services at their disposal. “The programme features meaningful and memorable events as well as information and orientation sessions to help the new Maties start their educational journey confidently. And this year, we're also including new staff, first-time SU postgraduate students and postdocs in the Welcoming Period," says Pieter Kloppers, Director: Centre for Student Communities.</p><p>Further exciting events lined up during the Welcoming Period are the Dream Walk in Victoria Street and Dreamville in and around the Neelsie Student Centre on the evening of Thursday 2 February (20:00–22:15), Connect (“Vensters") that will take place at the Welgevallen hockey field on Saturday 11 Feb (12:00–19:00), followed by the Maties Connect Festival (19:00–01:00), also taking place on the hockey field.</p><p><strong>Iconic Dream Walk into its fifth year</strong></p><p>Following the official welcoming event, students will participate in the Dream Walk in Victoria Street. Launched in 2019, this initiative sees students walk underneath a banner hanging across Victoria Street to symbolise the official start of their academic journey at SU. </p><p>“For thousands of Maties the Dream Walk symbolises the official start to their academic journey – for all practical reasons a dream coming true," says Kloppers. “The moment you pass underneath that banner, you know that you are now officially a Matie."<br></p><p>Newcomers will commence with classes on 13 February, which will also mark the official start of the University's 2023 academic year.</p><p> <em><strong>More information about the University's 2023 Welcoming Period:</strong></em></p><ul><li>Students have access to an online<strong> </strong><a href="/english/welcome/Pages/Online-Onboarding.aspx"><strong>onboarding programme to hel</strong></a><strong>p</strong> prepare them for the practical aspects of their studies. The programme is offered on SUNLearn, the University's learning management system.</li><li>The University's website, <a href="/"><strong></strong></a>, contains all the information newcomer students may need. The full welcoming programme and additional details, including the registration schedule, transport details, personal safety guidelines and information about SU Library, are available <a href="/english/welcome/Pages/default.aspx"><strong>here</strong></a>.  </li><li>Social media updates about the Welcoming Period will be posted under the hashtag #helloMaties. </li><li>Heavy traffic is expected on all main roads to Stellenbosch as well as in town on 1 and 2 February 2023.​<br><br></li></ul>
Dietetics graduate’s own life experience will help others graduate’s own life experience will help othersCorporate Communication and Marketing Division / Afdeling Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking<p>​About 13 years ago, Mikyle Rodrigues was a terrified ten-year-old who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and was in hospital with pancreatic failure.<br></p><p>The only person who seemed to understand him and who made him feel smart and empowered, was his pediatrician.</p><p>It was this doctor who inspired Rodrigues, at the tender age of ten, to become an empathetic health practitioner like his pediatrician had been. Rodrigues wanted to be able to tell patients he had walked in their shoes, knew what they were going through and that he could help. This dream became a reality on 6 December when Rodrigues graduated with his BSc Dietetics.</p><p>Rodrigues, who spent most of his childhood in Goodwood and now lives in Kraaifontein, will begin his community service as a dietician at the Church of Scotland Hospital in Tugela Ferry, KwaZulu-Natal next year. He said he’s delighted to be on the path to his dream career.</p><p>“I’ll be the only dietician at the hospital. After four years of studying, we all know the theory, but now we must put it into practice,” he said.</p><p>Elaborating on his career trajectory, and on why he wants to be there for other people with diabetes, he said, “I’ll never forget sitting in the hospital room and being told I was diabetic. It was the start of three and a half weeks in hospital. I didn’t know what diabetes was or how to process this. One doctor told me that, whenever I eat, I must inject myself but I hated needles. He told me I must never drink Coke or eat cakes and pies … then my dad walked into my ward and said, ‘Hey Mickey, here’s a pie for you’. I just burst into tears.</p><p>“It all hit home and I knew, even at that age, that I faced a big lifestyle change. I went through a lot of phases, but I adjusted, largely thanks to my pediatrician at the time, Dr Andrew Bristow. He gave me some books about diabetes and taught me how to count carbs and inject myself. I had nothing else to do in hospital, so I threw myself into reading the books.</p><p>“Dr Bristow visited me regularly in hospital and told me, ‘You’re such a bright boy. You can learn this whole book by tomorrow’.</p><p>“He made me feel smarter than I was. I took it as a challenge to learn, for instance, how many potatoes make up one serving of carbs. Then he would say, ‘Tomorrow I’ll ask you more’.</p><p>“It was that playful, challenging interaction with him that motivated me to learn more and go further. In fact, my encounter with that doctor was a landmark event in my life.</p><p>“I decided, at that young age, that I’d strive to be like him. I said to my mom, ‘I want to be that person who can share with patients that I am a type 1 diabetic, and I know what they are going through’.”</p><p>Rodrigues, who works at De Grendel wine estate as a wine-tasting host in his spare time, loves reading research articles, doing gym and boxing when he has leisure time.</p><p>Asked about his future, he said he already has a job waiting for him when he finishes his community service in a diabetes clinic in Claremont which he used to attend.</p><p>“She approached me and asked me to work in the clinic, because of the way I relate to patients.</p><p>“I am looking forward to being able to help patients, including those with diabetes, and, especially to help young diabetic patients, as it can be so confusing being diagnosed when you are young.</p><p>“It is so important for young diabetics to have someone they relate to, who can tell them that there is light at the end of the tunnel, based on real experience.”<br></p><p><br></p>
PhD graduate crosses graduation stage on his 30th birthday PhD graduate crosses graduation stage on his 30th birthdaySonika Lamprecht / Photo: Stefan Els<p style="text-align:justify;">​​Monday 5 December 2022 was a big day for Dr Hillary Chibaya. Not only did he cross the graduation stage to receive his doctoral degree from Stellenbosch University (SU) but he also did so on his 30<sup>th</sup> birthday.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“I am excited to graduate on my birthday. Individually, they are precious events. To be able to celebrate both of these with my family and friends is simply priceless."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Chibaya grew up in Harare, Zimbabwe together with his younger brother and two sisters. He went to Moleli High School near the town of Norton, about 80 km from Harare. His interest in and understanding of the social interactions among people coupled with a passion to assist those without substantial means, led him to persue Social Work as a field of study.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">It was his grandmother, Dr Chipo Mutyambizi, who advised him to study at Stellenbosch University. “While I was trying to decide on a university to attend, she was completing her Master's in Economics at SU. She was convinced SU was the best fit for my intended degree programme, as well as my sheer ambition. Almost nine years later, I am inclined to agree with her." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">His research topic centres around understanding the opinions of social workers on their perceived roles in social protest actions. “As a researcher, I had an avid curiosity to understand the complex and intricate workings of how people decide to join one another, and collectively decide to pursue respective social change efforts," Chibaya explains. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">But pursuing a doctoral study is inherently challenging on one's mental, social and emotional dimensions says Chibaya. “Without proper guidance and mentorship, the sheer complexity of the task is enough to drive one into depression. The long hours it demands of you can easily leave you without any friends or companions. When you couple all that with a lack of adequate financial means, it is overwhelmingly impossible."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">However, he was fortunate have a “brilliant supervisor and outstanding mentor" in Prof Lambert Engelbrecht. “Over the past four years, he has guided and directed me in every stage of my research study. Owing to him and the Social Work Department, I received scholarships to fund my doctoral study. A special thank you to Dianne Orton and Gordon Howard who supported me financially."</p><p>Orton, also a social worker, says, “We have met Hillary on two different occasions and were impressed with his sincerity, intelligence, determinism and future ambitions. His career will be a joy to follow and as I understand it, he is well on his way to making a mark in the social work profession." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Chibaya is also full of praise for his parents and siblings, whose support has always been “indispensable" in his academic career. “They were my stronghold during my lowest moments and kept me measured during the small victories."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Chibaya is convinced that discipline and a measured, well-balanced approach to his studies was the key to his success. “I had both long and short term goals carefully spread out across the intended timeline to complete the study." Despite the demands of his research, Chibaya participated in activities such as Toastmasters and exercised regularly. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">For the past three months, he has been completing an Erasmus+ post-doctoral programme in Trento, Italy. This programme entailed co-authoring research articles with Engelbrecht and Prof Alessandro Sicora from Trento University. He also facilitated seminars and workshops on social work and social action at the Universities of Turin and Trento and attended workshops on various topics within social work and practice research.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">After almost a decade at Maties, Stellenbosch feels like home to him. “I have met friends who have since become family to me. Together, we explored the Winelands, which I highly recommend. I have also been on many scenic hikes with some unforgettable views."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">But he will soon be waving the vineyards of Stellenbosch farewell as he is heading to Canada next year for a post-doctoral programme at the University of Montreal. “Beyond that, I will further my research on social action for human rights and social justice in social work," says Chibaya.  “Perhaps I will become a professor of social work one day. I love Stellenbosch, so maybe I will come back and lecture at the SU."</p><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>More about the donors</strong></p><p>Howard and Orton live in Iowa in the United States. Orton, a social worker by profession, was on a faculty exchange programme through the University of Missouri and the University of the Western Cape in 2000 when she met Dr Sulina Green, then the Director of the Social Work Program at SU. “It was through that association that I decided to pursue my doctorate at Stellenbosch with Green as my mentor and supervisor. I graduated in 2007.  Prof Lambert Engelbrecht was a member of my dissertation committee." </p><p>The couple has been to South Africa and especially to Stellenbosch many times and have become friends with many of the faculty members. “We found there was a need for student support, so we decided to donate in the area of student scholarships. Engelbrecht recommended Chibaya as a deserving student. After reviewing his information, we decided to provide financial support for his studies. </p><p>“Student support in the form of academic scholarships is our passion. We hope to continue to help support the department and its students in the future. Stellenbosch is truly a world class institution and I am grateful to be an alum and donor," Orton adds.<br></p>
December graduation ceremonies graduation ceremoniesCorporate Communication and Marketing | Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking <p>​​​Stellenbosch University (SU) will award approximately 5 500 qualifications during its December graduation series, which will run from 5–9 December. Graduation is a highlight on the University's academic calendar, and 13 ceremonies will be hosted at the Coetzenburg centre from 5 to 9 December. <br></p><p><strong>Honorary doctorates</strong></p><p>SU will also award honorary doctorates to a number of individuals who have made outstanding contributions in their respective fields. </p><p><strong>Prof Ernest Aryeetey </strong>will be awarded the degree Doctor of Commerce (DCom), <em>honoris causa</em>. The former vice-chancellor of the University of Ghana, Aryeetey is the founding secretary-general of the African Research Universities Alliance, a network of universities that focus on building research capacity on the continent. </p><p>The degree Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil), <em>honoris causa</em>, will be awarded to <strong>Ms Zubeida Jaffer</strong>, an award-winning South African journalist, author and activist. Jaffer started her career at the <em>Cape Times</em> daily newspaper in 1980 and went on to help develop local community newspapers during the time of resistance to apartheid. </p><p><strong>Mr Strive Masiyiwa</strong>,<strong> </strong>the founder and executive chairman of the South African-based, diversified international telecommunications group Econet Global Ltd, will be awarded the degree Doctor of Engineering (DEng), <em>honoris causa</em>. He is considered one of the pioneers of the mobile telecoms industry in Africa. </p><p>The degree Doctor of Science in Agriculture (DScAgric), <em>honoris causa</em>, will be awarded to <strong>Mr Thomas Dreyer (Tommie) van Zyl</strong>. He has been at the helm of the innovative ZZ2 farming enterprise and fresh-produce company for more than 20 years. The company is a significant job creator and contributor to socioeconomic development in South Africa.</p><p><strong>Prof Agnes Binagwaho, </strong>a Rwandan paediatrician, has made remarkable contributions to improving the health and wellbeing of people in Rwanda and in the rest of Africa. She will receive the degree Doctor of Science (DSc) (Medicine and Health Sciences), <em>honoris causa</em>. It will be conferred in absentia.</p><p>Psychiatrist and mental health expert <strong>Prof Vikram Patel </strong>will be awarded the degree Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil), <em>honoris causa</em>. He is a leading figure in the global mental health movement and a key contributor to the promotion of mental health and the prevention of mental disorders in low and middle-income countries.</p><p><strong>“Live by our values"</strong></p><p>SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers congratulated the graduands in advance and assured them that a qualification from SU would open doors for them, no matter where in the world they find themselves.</p><p>“Despite our challenging year, our international reputation is more than intact. We've built strong networks and purposeful partnerships, and the international community is keen to see what impact our graduates will have," he said.</p><p>Reflecting on the Covid-stricken 2020 and 2021, De Villiers said SU had managed to complete those challenging academic years because of the agility and can-do spirit of staff and students. “And in 2022, we have been able to go even further. Our staff and students across the academic spectrum have proved that SU nurtures and advances innovation," he said.</p><p>“This is not to say we didn't face significant challenges. The unfortunate incidents at our university have forced us to reflect on what it truly means to be an inclusive institution. But reflection also requires action, and we will do everything necessary to ensure that SU is a place where everyone feels welcome and heard."</p><p>He encouraged the graduands to “continue to live by SU's values of excellence, compassion, equity, respect and accountability".</p><ul><li>The ceremonies will be livestreamed at<span class="ms-rteForeColor-1"> </span><a href="/streaming"><span class="ms-rteForeColor-1"><strong></strong></span></a><span class="ms-rteForeColor-1"><strong>.</strong></span></li><li>Click here to find out more about the <a href="/english/students/Pages/Graduation.aspx"><strong class="ms-rteForeColor-1">December graduation series</strong></a>.<br><br></li></ul><br>
From student to staff member thanks to Disability Unit student to staff member thanks to Disability UnitCorporate Communication and Marketing | Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking <em><strong>Disability Awareness Month:</strong></em><br><p><em><strong>Annually, South Africa commemorates National Disability Rights Awareness Month between 3 November and 3 December.  Disability Awareness Month creates an opportunity for people with disabilities to raise awareness on the barriers they face daily and how society can improve those barriers. This year, the Stellenbosch University (SU) Disability Unit celebrates 15 years of support and inclusivity. To mark this, the Corporate Communication and Marketing Division spoke to students and staff who have been supported by the Disability Unit. Read below: </strong></em><br></p><p>Bongani Mapumulo has come a long way since an injury at the age of four left him in a wheelchair. Today, he holds a Sociology degree and two postgraduate diplomas from Stellenbosch University (SU).<br></p><p>Graduation did not mark the end of his journey with SU, however. He now works in the University's Registrar's Division, providing support to the committees forming part of the SU management team, including the Rectorate, Senate and Council.</p><p><strong>Solid support from Disability Unit</strong></p><p>It's not difficult to understand why SU has been a key part of his life for nearly a decade: From the outset, Bongani found a supportive environment at the University. “Even prior to my arrival as a first-year student in 2014, the Disability Unit communicated with me to find out what kind of disability I had, what assistance I needed, and whether I required any assistive devices," he recalls. The Unit also helped him choose the residence that would best meet his access requirements.</p><p>Throughout his studies, the Disability Unit continued to assist him in various other ways. “Sometimes, they would get involved as a third party when I found it difficult to communicate with some of the departments I was working with," he says.</p><p>In addition, Bongani became involved in, and eventually chaired, the student organisation Dis-Maties. “We were part of many conversations on campus," he says. “We also held our own events, all centred around raising awareness about disability. I thoroughly enjoyed it."</p><p><strong>Further disability-linked studies on the cards</strong></p><p>Although no longer a student, he retains his links with the Disability Unit and participates in its programmes. Bongani is also part of the Unit's current discussions regarding reviewing the University's Disability Access Policy.</p><p>Having completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Disability and Rehabilitation Studies in 2020, he plans to enrol for a master's degree. “I would like to bridge the gap between fundraising and disability projects," he explains. “The disabled community has many challenges. I would like to learn more about how to raise funds in a very practical manner to be able to address those challenges, which are often quite complex."</p><p>He adds: “You can't address all the problems in one go, so I want to take them on bit by bit where I feel I can make a difference. SU is pretty good at fundraising, so at some point, I would like to tap into those networks and learn how the University does it."</p><p><strong>Disability not “the end"</strong></p><p>Bongani is highly motivated – something he attributes to his exposure to a range of professionals who helped him with his rehabilitation after he lost the use of his lower limbs. “They helped shape my thinking and taught me not to regard disability as the end, but to believe that there's still a life out there if I continue working hard," he says.</p><p>“I look at life as a gift, especially because I became disabled through a traumatic event that could have led to my death. There has to be a reason why that didn't happen," Bongani reflects. “Whenever I think about the things I want to pursue, this thought motivates me to want to find out what lies ahead."</p><p><br></p>
SU 'a very different place today' for persons with disabilities 'a very different place today' for persons with disabilitiesCorporate Communication and Marketing | Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking <em><strong>​​Disability Awareness Month: </strong></em><br><em><strong>Annually, South Africa commemorates National Disability Rights Awareness Month between 3 November and 3 December. Disability Awareness Month creates an opportunity for people with disabilities to raise awareness on the barriers they face daily and how society can improve those barriers. This year, the Stellenbosch University (SU) Disability Unit celebrates 15 years of support and inclusivity. To mark this, the Corporate Communication and Marketing Division spoke to students and staff who have been supported by the Disability Unit. Read below: </strong></em><br><br><p>Stellenbosch University (SU) has been part of Luigia Nicholas's life for close to a decade. She first joined the University back in 2014 as a BCom student and now works for the Disability Unit as its marketing and training coordinator.<br></p><p><strong>Many improvements</strong></p><p>During her time on campus, Luigia – who is partially sighted – has witnessed many changes to address the needs of students with disabilities. “When I started, there weren't as many accessible residences," she recalls. “There was also no tactile paving across the whole campus, no Braille signage, and not all lifts had evacuation chairs." Back then, training opportunities for academic staff on the inclusion of students with disabilities were few and far between, and sensitisation to disability in general was largely lacking. </p><p>It was against this background that the Disability Unit provided her with assistance. “They put me in a residence close to campus so that it was safe for me to walk to my classes on a daily basis," Luigia says. “They also supported me with assistive technology to help me get through my studies."</p><p>Today, however, SU is a very different place, she says. “It has really improved a lot and is more inclusive of those with disabilities, especially in the newer buildings. And the University now offers the Siyakula staff training programme as well as student training.</p><p>“I don't think the University will ever reach a point where it will be completely accessible or inclusive of every type of disability because everyone's needs are different," Luigia adds. “But I do think there is a move in the right direction. There are conversations; there is training."</p><p><strong>Staunch advocate for disability issues</strong></p><p>As a student leader, she actively participated in helping to bring about some of these changes. “I was closely involved in voicing what the needs were and what needed to change," says Luigia, who is now studying towards a Postgraduate Diploma in Disability and Rehabilitation Studies. “My goal is to try and make the University even more inclusive."</p><p>She is passionate about working in the field of disabilities, so when she joined the staff of the Disability Unit in July, it felt like the logical next step. “It was an easy transition. I work in an environment already sensitised to my needs," she says. “When I started, they put measures in place to accommodate me with regard to software and to make sure there's enough space for my guide dog."</p><p><strong>Greater inclusivity for generations to come</strong></p><p>Luigia is driven by her personal background. “The type of disability I have is genetic, so I may have children or grandchildren with the same condition," she explains. “This is why I believe I have a responsibility to try to make the world a bit more inclusive so that they don't have to deal with the same struggles I have to deal with.</p><p>“So, if I have an opportunity to be a voice for disability inclusion, I should use it. While many people go through the same issues, perhaps they don't have the strength or capacity to voice their opinions. Therefore, I feel I have a duty to be an advocate and speak for those who can't."</p><p>Luigia's other long-term goal is to motivate young children to enrol at university. “At some schools – especially special-needs schools – many children are discouraged from going to university because people think it's not inclusive. If I can motivate learners to enter university, that's what I would like to do."<br></p><p><strong><em><br></em></strong></p><p><br></p>