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09 September 2019 | Story Charlene Stanley | Photo Badda Pictures
 Alumni Awards
The 2019 Chancellor’s Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are: (front from the left) Louzanne Coetzee, Dr Riana Scheepers, and Jaco Jacobs; (back from the left) Marius Janse van Rensburg, Dr Janine Allen-Spies, Angie Khumalo, Kesa Molotsane, Prof Corinna Walsh, and Ryan Ishmail. Karla Pretorius could not attend the awards ceremony, as she is currently in Australia.

Two authors, an artist, two lawyers, three athletes, a dietician, and a broadcaster make up the recipients of this year’s prestigious UFS Chancellor’s Distinguished Alumni Awards on 7 September 2019.
Not only were these former Kovsies’ lives and careers irrevocably shaped by the UFS; in turn, they have subsequently reflected honour back to the institution through the success they attained in different fields.

An honorary award was also bestowed for the first time this year.

Honorary Chancellor’s Distinguished Alumnus Award: Dr Khotso Mokhele

This award acknowledges the extraordinary support, guidance, and achievement that an individual has rendered towards the UFS. It was awarded to UFS Chancellor, Dr Khotso Mokhele.

Dr Mokhele holds a BSc degree in Agriculture from the University of Fort Hare, and MSc (Food Science) and PhD (Microbiology) from the University of California Davis. He has also received six honorary doctorates from various academic institutions, the most recent of which was from Rutgers University in the USA.

His contribution to science in South Africa has received wide recognition locally and abroad, and among the many public and corporate leadership positions he has held over the years, is that of President and CEO of the National Research Foundation (NRF).

Chancellor’s Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award: Dr Riana Scheepers

This is the highest honour accorded to an alumnus in recognition of the recipient’s distinguished achievements. This award celebrates an excellent alumnus who serves to inspire fellow alumni, current students, and the community at large.

It was bestowed on celebrated author, Dr Riana Scheepers, for her important contributions as a writer and language pedagogue.

She holds degrees in BA Communication Science, BA Honours in Afrikaans, and an MA in Afrikaans from the UFS, as well as a doctorate in Afrikaans and Dutch from the University of Cape Town (UCT).
Apart from her prolific creative writing career, she has also worked as a journalist and teacher, and has presented literacy and Writing and Creative Thinking courses to adults in Western Cape farming communities.

"Artists are not always recognised. Do what you have to do, but stay inspired. The harder you work, the bigger the miracle will become," was the advice Dr Scheepers had for aspiring artists on receiving her award.

Young Alumnus of the Year Award: Karla Pretorius

This award acknowledges the achievements of alumni who have graduated within the past decade and have contributed immensely to their fields.

It was bestowed on South African professional netball player and dietician, Karla Pretorius, who holds a BSc and MSc in Dietetics from the UFS.

Her many accolades as a netball player includes recently being named Player of the Tournament in the 2019 Netball World Cup. She has worked as a community-service dietician for the Mangaung University Community Partnership, and currently plays professional netball in Australia.

Cum Laude Award: Dr Janine Allen-Spies, Ryan Craig Ishmail, and Jaco Jacobs

This award is bestowed upon an alumnus to recognise excellence in any field, whether vocational or voluntary.

Dr Janine Allen-Spies: artist, image philosopher, and UFS senior lecturer in Fine Arts, she was honoured for excelling in the visual-arts arena, and for her pioneering academic work, paving the way for many young artists in the Free State Arts community.

She holds a BA in Fine Arts from the UFS and was the first scholar to complete a practice-based MA (including a full dissertation) and a PhD in Fine Arts at the UFS.

Ryan Ishmail: lawyer and acting magistrate at the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, he was the youngest ever magistrate in the Free State at the age of 31.
He has worked as supervising attorney at the UFS Law Clinic, as lecturer, and as legal officer in the Directorate for Student Discipline and Mediation.

He holds LLB and LLM (Labour Law) degrees from the UFS.

Jaco Jacobs: well-known author, he is often recognised as the most successful writer of children’s books in South Africa. He has received numerous writing awards, and regularly visits schools to give motivational talks and conduct writing workshops. 

He has written more than 150 books for toddlers, children, and young adults and translated over 250 children’s books in his career up to now.
He holds a BA Communication Sciences (cum laude) degree, as well as a BA Honours (Afrikaans and Dutch) from the UFS.
Executive Management Award: Marius Janse van Rensburg and Prof Corinna Walsh

This service award is presented to an individual who has delivered exceptional service to the University of the Free State.

Marius Janse van Rensburg:  a lawyer who holds a BProc degree from the UFS, he was honoured for his service in the management structures of the UFS Rugby Club for an uninterrupted period of 23 years. His inspiring, unwavering leadership – for which he has received no remuneration over the years – has helped cement the UFS Rugby Club as one of the leading amateur rugby clubs in the country.

Prof Corinna Walsh: Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at the UFS, and an NRF C3-rated researcher, she was honoured for her involvement in research relating to nutrition and health epidemiology. She serves as Chairperson of the Nutrition Society of South Africa (NSSA) and on various community-engagement and editorial boards. She is recognised nationally and internationally as an accomplished researcher, scholar, and for her philanthropic community-orientated work. She holds a BSc, MSc, and PhD in Dietetics from the UFS.

Kovsie Ambassador Award: Louzanne Coetzee, Angie Khumalo, and Kesa Molotsane

The Kovsie Ambassador Award is bestowed upon an individual whose achievements have brought distinction to him/her, benefited his/her community, and brought credit to the University of the Free State. 

Louzanne Coetzee: athlete and residence head of the Akasia residence at the UFS, she holds the world record for the 5 000 m in the T11 (totally blind) category and was the first totally blind female to clock a sub-20 minutes in this distance. She also holds the African record in the 1 500 m. 

She holds a BA and BAHons in Integrated and Corporate Marketing Communication, as well as an MA Social Cohesion and Reconciliation from the UFS.

Angie Khumalo: celebrated Johannesburg-based radio broadcaster, she works as a successful sports and news reader and movie reviewer. She also co-hosted the TV tourism programme Vaya Mzanzi, traversing the country on a motorbike, and is a passionate farmer.

She holds a BSc and BSc Honours (Botany and Genetics) from the UFS. 

Kesa Molotsane: a professional athlete, she has been described as the country’s most versatile middle-distance athlete – achieving on track, cross-country, and the road-running scene. She is also well-known for her involvement in community projects, such as being an ambassador for the Mother and Child Academic Hospital (MACAH).
She holds the following UFS qualifications: BA General Management, Basic Labour Law certificate, Advanced Labour Law certificate, Alternative Dispute Resolution certificate.

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