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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

UFS researchers discover the many uses of the cactus pear
2015-02-17

UFS researchers discover the many uses of the cactus pear

For many South Africans, the dry, arid areas in many parts of the country became synonymous with cactus pear growing at random in the natural veld. For some the fruit of a cactus pear, if chilled really well, is a delicious snack on a hot summer’s day. But few actually know that these cacti can be money growing wild in the veld.

For the past 15 years, scientists  at the University of the Free State (UFS) have been looking into the benefits and many uses of the cactus pear. This project  has grown steadily in vision and dimension, and today the UFS is recognised as a world-leading institution in the world conducting multi-disciplinary research on spineless cactus pear.

Dr Maryna de Wit, from the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology, together with Prof Wijnand Swart from the Department of Plant Sciences and Prof HO de Waal from the Department of Animal, Wildlife and Grassland Sciences, determined the nutritional and, more importantly, the commercial and viable uses of the cactus pear.

The aspect of human consumption is now giving the cactus pear the status of ‘superfood’.

Dr De Wit and her team have successfully made various products using either the cactus pear fruit, the cladode (also referred to as the leaf) and the mucilage (the sticky liquid  in the cladode).

Some of these products are:

  • flour for baking carrot cake, biscuits and health breads
  • jam, fruit juice and canned fruit
  • sweets – marshmallows and Turkish delight
  • stir-fry, salads and other cooked dishes.

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