A celebration of years of hard work played itself out at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s (NMMU) Indoor Sports Centre today as hundreds of students crossed the stage at the first graduation session for the Port Elizabeth campuses.
NMMU Vice-Chancellor Prof Derrick Swartz capped about 800 students in the Faculty of Arts this morning, with Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning Prof Denise Zinn awarded those in the Education Faculty in the afternoon session. Tomorrow, former Public Service and Administration minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, internationally acclaimed educational entrepreneur Fred Swaniker and entrepreneur and devout philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa will receive honorary doctorates.
Addressing the hall full of students, their friends and family, mentors and lecturers today, Prof Swartz congratulated graduates, calling on them to go forth and claim leadership spaces and tap into their entrepreneurial abilities in light of economic uncertainty and mechanisation.
“This occasion is a celebration and vindication of years of hard work and intellectual labour as much time spent researching and writing has led to this point,” he said.
“You made it, so well done on that score. We are very proud of you because in you lie the hopes and needs of our generation – the ones who are now, in a sense, managing institutions in the economy and civil society on your behalf. However, you are the people … who are going to have to take over the reins and lead us into this uncertain future and it is indeed a highly uncertain and unpredictable future that we are living through.
“You guys are going to be entrepreneurs or social entrepreneurs, run enterprises, maybe work for large conglomerates or public institutions or within the creative industry. I would hope that you would also think through the implications of your leadership and have innovations that can get to the lives of ordinary people.
“I wish you well on your journeys. I think it is going to be an amazing one and I wish all the very best as you go out there and become leaders in your own right.”
Nine doctoral degrees were awarded in the Education Faculty and three in Arts, with about 1300 students receiving the under- and postgraduate degrees or diplomas in both faculties.
Tomorrow, two students from NMMU’s first cohort of admitted blind students, Avukile Jeke and Lubabalo Sapepa, are set to cross the stage and the University’s first group of BSc Dietetics students will be graduating during the autumn graduation period.
A total 6786 students – which include a record 95 doctorates – from seven faculties will be awarded their qualifications in 17 ceremonies spread over two weeks. This is highest number of graduates for the University to date.
NMMU’s graduation figures have grown over the last five years, from 5976 graduates in 2012 to 6786 in 2016. In the 2015 graduation year, a total 6258 students were capped.