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21 May 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Ian van Straaten
Dr Thandi Gumede
Dr Thandi Gumede graduated with a PhD in Polymer Science. She is from Intabazwe, Harrismith.

The Qwaqwa Campus of the University of the Free State was a hive of activity on 17 and 18 May 2019, when over 800 degrees, diplomas, and certificates were conferred on deserving achievers. These included six PhDs and 14 master’s degrees across the four faculties.

Congratulating the graduates on both days, was Africa’s youngest PhD and Industrial Psychology lecturer, Dr Musawenkosi Saurombe, and Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor.

Be like heat

Dr Saurombe started her address by relating her school journey that saw her starting Grade 1 at age 5, thus later matriculating at the age of 15, having skipped Grades 3 and 10. She went on to emphasise the importance of building an honourable character.

“As a graduate, you will soon realise that your degree is useless if you do not have character,” she said to an attentive audience that continued to marvel at her remarkable school history. She encouraged graduates to be like heat that cannot be seen but can only be felt. “Noise can often be seen and heard, but it cannot be felt. However, while heat cannot always be seen, it is always felt. Be like heat and may your presence always be felt,” she said.

Do not focus on yourself

Prof Francis Petersen also encouraged graduates to look beyond their degrees by developing a set of critical values.
 
“For us as the university, this ceremony is not just about your degrees. It is about the values that you must live by,” he said. “As a graduate of the UFS, do not just believe what you are told. Ask questions and engage critically. Secondly, do not just focus on yourself. Remember that you are part of a community and it is your responsibility to make our world a better place for others. You need to be socially responsive to the needs of your community. Thirdly, remember that integrity plays a very important role. This will determine how others value you,” he said.

The two ceremonies also saw three current SRC members graduating. They are Lebohang Miya (BEd FET – Accounting and Business Studies), Duduzile Mhlongo (BA – Geography and isiZulu), and Mhlongo Sinemfundo (BA – Geography and isiZulu).

News Archive

Prisca Odero awarded ASA Presidential Fellowship
2015-02-17

Dr Odero (on the right) pictured with Suzanne Baazet, ASA Executive Director at the Awards Ceremony.

Dr Prisca Odero, a Centre for Africa Studies (CAS) fellow, received the African Studies Association (ASA) Presidential Fellow award in Indianapolis, USA, recently.

She was nominated for ASA by Dr Cyril Obi from the Social Science Research Council (New York), and was selected competitively, based on her PhD thesis and applied research work in rural development in Africa. Odero obtained her PhD in Africa Studies from the UFS at the July 2014 Graduation Ceremony.

On 22 November 2014, Dr Odero gave a public lecture at the Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. The event was hosted by the Political Science Department at the College.

Her paper, titled Sources and role of social capital in smallholder agricultural production: The value of membership of community groups to Zimbabwe rural livelihoods, sought to address the question of whether social capital contributed to the resilience of rural households in the face of economic difficulties and food security challenges. Dr Odero argued that the link between social capital and agricultural production is manifest in the ways in which farmers use social capital derived from membership of groups to alleviate agricultural production challenges.

Smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe, who face constraints in acquiring the necessary resources for production because of failing markets and reduced agri-industry productive capacity, employ a range of methods to deal with these challenges.  She presented an analysis of data collected through focus group discussions with representative groups and through a household survey.

Dr Odero’s research forms part of a book project. While books on agricultural development knowledge do exist, more studies analysing issues and offering solutions from an African perspective would help to address the gap in African knowledge production.

 

For more information or enquiries contact news@ufs.ac.za

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