28 February 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Ian van Straaten
Qwaqwa first years
Colourful first-years during their official welcome.

The first-year students on the University of the Free State Qwaqwa Campus received a warm welcome from the Rectorate on Friday 22 February 2019.

Speaking during the ceremony, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, emphasised the need for students to recognise the crucial role that self-reliance will play in their future endeavours on campus and beyond. “You have now entered a new chapter of your lives that will depend so much on self-reliance. Self-reliance will come with an increased sense of responsibility and accountability,” Prof Petersen said.

Enhance your student experience

“Now that you are here in your numbers, it will put a challenge to our infrastructure. However, the good news is that there are already developments to take care of that. New buildings are already under construction, including the state-of-the-art lecture halls, as well as the part that will house Student Academic Services, Financial Aid, and the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. All these are aimed at improving your student experience. Make use of the smallness of this campus to enhance your student experience. Participate fully in student activities and grow as a person. You now have access to higher education; complete your degree and exit the system successfully.”

Prof Petersen further advised students to take care of themselves. “There are three very important aspects that I need you to focus on. These are your mental health, finances, and safety. If there are challenges, please talk to somebody. We offer specialised services through our Department of Student Counselling and Development, among others.”

“As far as your finances are concerned, please be responsible and ensure that you get proper advice. Finally, remember that safety starts with yourself. We will create a safe environment, as we care for both our students and staff. We work with law enforcers to ensure that our off-campus students are well taken care of,” he added.

Embrace diversity, celebrate excellence

In attendance at the event was also the Dean: Student Affairs, Pura Mgolombane, and SRC President, Sakhile Mnguni. Mgolombane told students to always remember where they came from. “It does not matter where you come from. What matters is that you have some level of knowledge that we expect you to share with us. Here at Kovsies everyone deserves to triumph. Make use of the resources to create a better version of yourself,” he said.

Mnguni, on the other hand, congratulated the first-years for being “among the best of the best in the country, given the struggles of accessing the higher-education sector”.

“You have fought hard to get into the university system and now that you have, a new journey awaits. You have come into a space where women and men alike are respected, a space where diversity is embraced, a space where excellence is duly celebrated. This place will provide you with many opportunities for skills development that you must grab with both hands,” he said.

The official welcome was preceded by dance, poetry, and musical performances that added colour to the already colourful first-years.

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