A notable 61 percent of UKZN graduands are women. The degrees will be conferred at the University’s ceremonies which will be held from 15 – 23 April 2013.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal will confer an impressive 9 486 degrees at the University’s 21 Graduation ceremonies which will be held over eight days. The ceremonies commenced on Monday, April 15, and will end on Tuesday, April 23. A notable 61 percent of the graduands are women and 607 are international students. A total of 175 doctoral degrees will be conferred.  Women constitute 56 percent of the 396 graduands who will graduate cum laude and summa cum laude respectively.  Sixty seven graduands with disabilities will receive their degrees.

Approximately 1 646 degrees will be conferred in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science; 907 in the College of Health Sciences; 4 832 in the College of Humanities; 2 101 in the College of Law and Management Studies.

In addition, the University will confer honorary doctorates on nine leading and accomplished individuals for their outstanding contributions in the human rights, scientific, arts and culture, social sciences, political, and academic sectors.  These individuals have through their vision, humanitarian efforts, resilience, social conscience and innovation in their respective fields, made a profound change in the lives of people both in South Africa and globally.

On Monday 15 April, Ms Ela Gandhi was conferred Doctor of Social Science while Mr Ranjith Kally was conferred Doctor of Literature. Honorary degrees that will be conferred include: Professor Hugh Africa - Doctor of Education (posthumous), Dr Uche Amazigo - Doctor of Science, Mr Johnny Clegg - Doctor of Music, Mr Daisaku Ikeda - Doctor of Social Science,  Dr Mosibudi Mangena - Doctor of Science, Professor Welile Shasha - Doctor of Medicine and Mr Carl Wright - Doctor of Administration.

Sadly Professor Hugh Africa passed away before the award could be conferred but it will be accepted by a family member at the ceremony.

Eminent guest speakers include Professor Shirley Walters and Judge Dhayanithie Pillay who will address graduates on Tuesday, 16 April at 19:00 and Friday, 19 April at 10:00 respectively.

Shirley Walters is the first Professor of Adult Education in South Africa. This distinguished title goes part of the way towards highlighting her pioneering role in the development of the field of lifelong learning and adult education – both at home and abroad. Judge Dhayanithie Pillay, a defender of human rights and an expert in labour law was appointed as a judge of the High Court in Pietermaritzburg and Durban in 2010. Prior to this she was a judge of the Labour Court of South Africa for 10 years.

Two leading academics Dr Anthony Collins and Dr Corrie Schoeman will receive the University’s Distinguished Teachers’ Award for teaching excellence. These prestigious awards recognize innovative and outstanding teaching commitment.

Four prominent academics will be made Fellows of the University, Professor Gerald West, Professor Leana Uys, Professor Jacek Banasiak and Professor Marie-Louise Newell.  University Fellowships are conferred annually on outstanding academics for research excellence and distinguished academic achievement.

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Ms Ela Gandhi, who was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Social Science from UKZN yesterday, urged academics to use their knowledge to build a humanist society informed by the philosophy of Ubuntu.

‘In the days of the struggle we were guided by academics and by many philosophies which our young academics pondered over before we decided on a course of action. Then, the issues were about liberation from apartheid, building an egalitarian society, building unity, mobilising the masses. But it was the knowledge base that helped us ensure that our process of struggle was scientifically determined ... we acted on the basis of strategy and tactics.’

Gandhi said although many of the same issues remain today, there is a ‘scramble for scarce resources leading to violence, wars and selfishness’.

‘There is chaos,’ she said. ‘It often seems that we are indeed walking on the path of the philosophy of the survival of the fittest.’

During her lifetime, Gandhi has consistently espoused the relevance her legendary grandfather Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violent action for justice, peace and development, and she has actively promoted education about non-violent methods of resolving conflict and building positive relationships between people of different races and faiths.

Acknowledging her debt to past activists, she said: ‘It is important for me to acknowledge that like all of us, I stand on the shoulders of the many from whom I have learned so much.  There are too many to mention, but suffice to say that all those men women and young people who dedicated their lives to the struggle for the liberation of our country and those who ensure that we continue to walk on the path of truth, justice and human rights are indeed all the people who are being honoured today as the recipients of this honour, which I accept on behalf of them, for without them I am nothing.’

In keeping with Mahatma’s vision, Gandhi actively promotes respect and tolerance among people of different faiths. This has led to her appointment as a Vice-President of the World Council of Religions for Peace and service on the Advisory Board of the Parliament of World Religions.

Concerned about the high levels of violence in South Africa, particularly among young people, she established the International Centre of Non-Violence (ICON) at the Durban University of Technology in 2007 to promote the teaching of non-violent methods of resolving conflict to school children and university students throughout South Africa.

In 2002, she received the Community of Christ International Peace Award and in 2007 the Padma Bhushan Award from the Government of India for her outstanding community service – it is India’s third highest civilian honour and was conferred on her by Indian President A P J Abdul Kalam.

In her parting words to the audience and academics, Gandhi said: ‘The choice as well as the need to act is now in your hands. As academics you are armed with knowledge and you can use the knowledge to build society.   You are the future leaders of this country.’

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Durban-born photojournalist Ranjith Kally dedicated his Honorary Doctorate in Literature to all his colleagues who may not have been recognised for their role in documenting the struggle during apartheid.

‘I am humbled by the magnanimous gesture of UKZN in recognising my work over many years. This event is a culmination of my dreams and that of my community of fellow photographic journalists,’ he said.

Kally, who was admitted as an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society in 1967, has been a witness and archivist of some of the most poignant moments in South African history, including the 1956 Treason Trial, the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chief Albert Luthuli in 1961, the Rivonia Trial in 1963 and the momentous resistance events of the 1970s and 1980s, including the aftermath of the Maseru Massacre.

Over the years his pictures have documented the pain of forced removals, the loss of innocence associated with gangsterism, the simple life of Groutville and the everyday contradictions of racial dynamics such as two white men drinking at a local shebeen in Cato Manor, an area classified as “non-white” during the apartheid era.

His work also captured important personalities in South Africa’s history, including Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Monty Naicker, Winnie Madikizela- Mandela, Billy Nair, Miriam Makeba and many others.

He said looking back, the leader who made the greatest impression on him was Chief Albert Luthuli. ‘To me he was a true leader. The persecution that he suffered never got him to flinch. He never gave in no matter how hard the apartheid government made it. He kept his dignity and worked for peaceful change.’

Kally’s pictures have graced newspapers around the world. They are part of the Nobel Collection, are featured in school textbooks, and are depicted on two South African postage stamps.

He ranks among the most politically courageous and artistically gifted photographers of his generation with his works exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and at the Nobel Peace Center Commemoration of South African Nobel Peace Laureates in 2009.

‘At 87, I am still taking pictures which make the news. There will always be pictures. Whether black and white or colour. Nothing captures a moment like a photograph. From my humble beginnings, I could never have imagined being recognised with an honorary doctorate, I thank you.’

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Award-winning South African House musician Mr Zakhele Madida, known on stage as Zakes Bantwini, graduated with a Diploma in Music Performance from UKZN.

He said achieving his diploma ‘meant everything’ to him.

‘Education is very important and everyone needs to have some sort of qualification to further their career,’ said Madida who has nine successful albums under his belt and a string of awards, including the Best Male Award at the 10th METRO Music Awards in 2011 and the Most Gifted Video of the Year Artist at the Channel O Awards in 2011.

Madida’s love of music began at an early age. While studying towards his Diploma in Jazz and Popular Music, he began to play the piano and during his final year of study he formed his independent record label Mayonie Productions.

He discovered Kwaito sensation L’vovo Derrango and teamed up with top producer and award-winning DJ Black Coffee for his latest album Love, Light and Music, a collaboration between Mayonie Productions and Soulistic Music.

His passion for music has led Madida to be dubbed the new king of dance music in South Africa and he is confident that his music will continue to entertain and inspire people into the future.

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‘Since high school I knew that I wanted to become a psychologist. I would counsel my friends and offer advice, even when they had relationship problems. And I loved it. When it came time to apply to university, I applied for Psychology at UKZN and I have never regretted my choice.’

This choice – by Honours Psychology student, Mr Nkanyiso Madlala - culminated this year in his graduating cum laude at the annual UKZN graduation ceremony. He was cheered on by his family who travelled a great distance to witness the event and celebrate his success.

Madlala comes from a small, remote, rural mountain town called Ingwavuma, situated near the border with Swaziland.

‘Despite a rural education, I owe my academic success to many people, especially my supportive and caring teachers and my determined principals, both in primary and high school. My family and my church also played a crucial role in supporting me, guiding me and raising me in a way that a child should be raised.’

To pursue his passion, Madlala came to UKZN in 2009. ‘At first I was very anxious and ambivalent about my ability to succeed at UKZN. I have the teaching and support staff from the Howard College campus to thank, especially those in Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology.’ 

‘I was amazed at the level of support, care and guidance from the lecturers. They saw potential in me and they facilitated the channelling of that potential. My experience here at the University is truly exceptional.’

Madlala’s research focuses on assessing the experience of HIV-positive prisoners with regard to stigma and discrimination and how those experiences impact on health-related outcomes such as adherence to medical regimes.

‘I am proud of myself for such an outstanding achievement. More than half of my life is structured around my academic life, so for me, a good achievement is crucial and important.’

Madlala is currently completing his Masters degree in Psychology at UKZN and hopes one day to specialise in neuropsychology.

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Two part-time jobs, personal health issues, and the responsibility of contributing towards family finances did not stand in the way of UKZN student Ms Nokwanda Nzuza who graduated cum laude with a Masters degree in Social Science-Anthropology on 15 April.

Nzuza is a first-generation postgraduate student in her family and her accomplishment is a source of immense personal pride to her extended family in Umlazi. Her Supervisor, Dr Maheshvari Naidu, says Nzuza has also made her, and her academic discipline, very proud.

Nzuza’s study was located in the expanding interdisciplinary field of migration studies. Recognising that there is a great diversity in terms of migrant flows and the minority communities that form from these flows, Nzuza decided to focus on the relatively less researched Sierra Leone community within South Africa. Nzuza identified that anthropological work in migration studies that focused on the more distantly emanating migratory flows from conflict-affected countries such as Sierra Leone were more sparsely represented within the literature.

Her ethnographic study titled: The Role of “home food” in Maintaining Identity through Social Network Ties: Sierra Leone Migrants in Durban probed aspects of re-territorialisation and worked through the hermeneutic of “home food” – food that is indigenous to the migrant Sierra Leone community. Nzuza’s study explored how the artefact of “home food”, shared communally through so-called social “food networks”, assisted migrants in maintaining aspects of “self” and identity in a foreign host space. Her qualitative inquiry allowed her to collect “thick” narratives which revealed that “home food” acts as an “agent” for maintaining home identity for Sierra Leonean migrants, allowing them to re-territorialise their host spaces and minimise their longing through the act of bringing home”.

Migration and transnational studies are of interest to the anthropological field of study as people relocate with unique identities, backgrounds and “cultural complexes”. Numerous new theories of migration, transnationalism and trans-national movements have arisen in an attempt to explain the (changing) nature of the “back and forth” travel and human flow as people follow particular migration circuits and engage with host spaces. These theories allow us to engage with the ways in which people transcend borders, and forge “roots” with “place” and “home” as both “place” and “home” are increasingly being understood as constantly shifting.

Dr Naidu describes Nzuza’s work ethic as exemplary, adding that her level of critical engagement is to be admired. Adopting and working through the disciplinary focus of anthropology has demanded that she master a vast array of methodological techniques to meet the challenges of doing qualitative ethnographic work, and she has proved an excellent student in this regard,’ says Naidu.

Naidu encouraged Nzuza to participate in national and international academic arenas and to this end Nzuza attended the Annual Anthropology Conference held at the University of Stellenbosch in 2011. The following year Nzuza went a step further and presented preliminary findings of her Masters at the 2012 Annual Anthropology Conference at the University of Cape Town.

Naidu says that she was so impressed with Nzuza’s work ethic and “eagerness for intellectual growth” that she invited her to participate as a student team member on a large women’s health project in 2012 that Naidu was heading. This project allowed Naidu to take Nzuza to co-present a paper emanating from that study at a Social Sciences Conference at the American University of Rome in Italy last year.

Naidu describes Nzuza as amicable and able to work independently and cohesively in large or small groups. ‘Her petite and diminutive stature belies a strong determination to succeed. Her quiet and soft-spoken demeanour masks a deep psychological strength that has allowed her to overcome many obstacles and forge on with the MA. Nokwanda is truly a deserving young lady!’

According to Naidu, as Nzuza prepared to submit her MA thesis in November last year, she was simultaneously mentally drawing the framework around her doctoral work, the outline of which she has already penned in the form of a draft proposal. Since January this year, she has been travelling to Pietermaritzburg daily in her new post as research assistant for the Human Sciences Research Council, returning to residence late in the evenings. In spite of her demanding work schedule, she has prioritised time to work on her doctorate.

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‘Blood, sweat and tears ... there is nothing glamorous about the world of academia.’ This was the response from Ms Simóne Plüg when quizzed about her secret to completing her Master of Social Science (Psychology) degree.

Plüg graduated summa cum laude at a recent UKZN graduation ceremony where she celebrated with her fellow Psychology and Society Masters-by-dissertation graduates.

Plüg’s thesis, on discursive constructions of young men's ideal masculine body images, theorised ‘the absurdity of mainstream masculinity’ and aimed to unearth ‘new possibilities for people to negotiate less socially and emotionally destructive identities’.

It provided an account of the discourses that participants used when discussing their own and other male bodies, exploring the ways in which consumerism and the media facilitate certain constructions of body image amongst young South African men. It also highlighted the social dynamics which facilitate emphasis on some discourses around the ideal male body, and the silencing of others.

The examiners were unanimous in awarding the degree summa cum laude, with the internal panel describing it as “an outstanding project”. An external panellist claimed it was ‘one of the best Masters dissertations I have ever examined’.

Plüg said some of the factors ensuring her success were: choosing an area of enquiry that was of personal interest, finding a supportive supervisor and working collaboratively. ‘Most importantly, find the rare spaces where you can work collaboratively in a non-competitive environment which does not aim to improve efficiency or productivity but rather promotes interaction and creates the opportunities where knowledge can be shared and produced collectively,’ she said.

Plüg said it felt wonderful to have her Masters degree. ‘And somewhat unbelievable, too,’ she admitted. ‘When I was drowning in interview transcriptions, the final thesis seemed a remote prospect. I am really pleased that it came together so nicely,’ she said.

Plüg thanked her family and friends for their patience and never-ending faith in her abilities and praised her three fellow Psychology and Society students. ‘Working somewhat collaboratively, discussing ideas about theory and themes and sharing our experiences throughout the research process was really beneficial, and getting to know these interesting and compassionate girls more personally, as friends, was a real privilege.’

She also expressed her gratitude to her supervisor for his contribution to her postgraduate studies. ‘Dr Anthony Collins is a most innovative and passionate teacher and his critical conceptualisations and keen insight have fundamentally shaped my thinking. Thank you for your continued support and guidance.’

Plüg is embarking on her PhD this year with a view to an academic career. ‘I would like to teach critically engaging material that challenges hegemonic norms, be involved in innovative course development and find a university that values socially-engaged public education,’ she said.

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Ukuthola ibhalansi phakathi komsebenzi kanye nomndeni kungumqans’onzima kakhulu kulabo abasebenzayo abanobudlelwano, okubenza ukuthi bazame ukukwazi ukuphila ngaphansi kwengcindezi kanye nezinye izinxushunxushu ikakhulukazi uma benabantwana.

Ukuthi bakwazi kanjani ukuphila phansi kwalezi zimo, isona sihloko socwaningo uNksz Faheema Valli esiholele ukuba athweswe iziqu zeqhuzu le-Masters kwi-Industrial Psychology emcimbini wokwethweswa iziqu kamuva nje. OkaValli uthe, umsebenzi wakhe ubugqugquzelwa ukuthi usebenza endaweni la ebezungezwe khona abant’abanobudlelwano abanemisebenzi emibili abayenzayo, ukwenze lokhu ngokuthi abaqaphele ukuzama ukuthola ukuthi bakwazi kanjani ukubhalansisa izimpilo zabo zase-msebenzini kanye nasekhaya.

Njengamanje uFaheema usebenza njengalowo onolwazi olunzulu esithi phecelezi-specialist kwezokuhlola kanye nesazi sokusebenza kwengqondo kanye nemicabango phecelezi - Psychologist e-Discovery Health.

‘Ubeke wathi, inhloso yocwaningo lakhe ukubheka ngokujulile imbangela yengcindezi kanye nezinxushunxushu ababhekana nazo labo abanobudlelwano kwingqikithi yaseNingizimu Afrika.   ‘Ucwaningo lwami luhlole ubulili obuhlukene kwizinxushunxushu eziphakathi komsebenzi kanye nomndeni ngokuzama ukuqonda imbangela edalwa ingcindezi kulabo abasebenzayo abanobudlelwano. Ucwaningo lwami luphinde labheka ukungqubuzana okukhona phakathi kwengcindezi kulabo abasebenzayo abanobudlelwano abanezingane kanye nalabo abangenazo. 

Imiphumela yocwaningo ikhomba ukuthi kunobudlelwano obukhulu obukhona phakathi kwengcindezi ebonakalayo kanye nezinxushunxushu ezikhona emazingeni angafani. Nakuba kunjalo, imiphumela yocwaningo iveza ukuthi labo abanobudlelwano abasebenzayo abangenabo abantwana bathola ingcindezi enkulu edalwa impilo yasemsebenzini kunozakwabo abanabantwana.

UFaheema uthe, yize noma ehlangabezane nezinye izingqinamba ekuphothuleni umsebenzi wakhe, kodwa ngenxa yempokophelo abenayo yokuthi aphumelele, uye wabekezela kwaze kwaba sekugcineni kwephupho lakhe. Uthi uyaziqhenya kakhulu ngempumelelo yakhe: ‘Ngisebenze kanzima, ngisebenza amahor’amade, ngiyajabula kubo bonke abangisekile. ‘

Iseluleko sakhe kwabany’ abafundi ukuthi babekezele kuzo zonke izinselelo abahlangabezana nazo kanye nobunzima obungavela.

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‘I ran a tight ship with regard to balancing work and play during my Masters. You have to have a balance; it’s unhealthy any other way.’

This balance worked in the favour of Mr Cameron Finnie who graduated cum laude with his Master of Architecture degree at the Humanities Graduation ceremony yesterday.

His dissertation explored a more directly handmade, crafted and quality-driven architecture that responds to a more personal connection and experience with the built environment.

‘Since the turn of the 20th century, the technological development of the machine has brought about mass production of almost everything from spaces, food, environments, experiences, and architecture. This has inevitably created what Marc Auge calls a “universal sameness”’, said Finnie.

‘The dominance of machine-based processes has diluted the experience of the hand-made environment -- once rich with tactility, quality, honesty, and craft - by means of reproduction and standardisation.’

Finnie said he hoped his thesis would appeal to a wider audience than just the architectural profession. ‘There are many parallels that can be drawn within the context of the paper as it explores a cross-section of disciplines,’ he said.

Among the highlights of the research process, he listed the chance to explore a subject, both in research and design, that he strongly believed in. ‘The journey of experiencing something completely new through literature has always fascinated me. The process of research really changes the way you perceive things around you.’

Finnie was awarded a partial bursary for his Masters degree from UKZN and also received the Sherwood Bond bursary for his academic performance in 2011.

Cameron thanked his family, friends, supervisor Mr Juan Solis and mentor Mr Leon Conradie for their support, advice and love during his studies. ‘Without the support of friends and family none of this would have happened and I definitely would not have made it through in one piece. They often had to remind me that there is more to life.’

Finnie advised other researchers to start reading as soon as possible and carefully select their subject matter. ‘Choose a topic that excites you enough to keep you going for two years. There is no right or wrong, so explore as much as you can. And, most importantly, enjoy it.’

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Two Psychology students with an interest in addressing forms of gender-based violence, Miss Samantha Howlett and Miss Tarryn Du Randt, graduated cum laude with their Master of Social Science degrees on 15 April.

Howlett said she is proud of her achievement and believes her research on volunteers working in the area of domestic violence will benefit the community. ‘It is an awesome feeling to graduate cum laude. A lot of hard work and time went into this research and I am relieved that it all came together and I am super proud of the work, especially as I believe it will benefit the community, she said.

Her research focused on the training and support needs of crisis interventionists volunteering at an organisation for the abused. ‘This research will directly benefit the organisation, the volunteers, as well as all those who use the services provided by them. Intimate partner violence is a major problem in our country with one woman being killed by her intimate partner every six hours,’ she said.

Given these statistics, Howlett said it was imperative that if a victim comes forward, she is able to speak to a trained volunteer who will provide her with a safe and empathetic counselling environment as well as the most appropriate information going forward.

Turning the research spotlight back on campus, her colleague Du Randt explored the ways in which students living in residence talk about gender-based violence and how this influences its perpetration.

‘I believe that my research in some small way gives a voice to many silenced students who are or have been victims of gender-based violence on campus. I also think that it draws attention to a significant problem on campus that is currently receiving little attention. Furthermore, it highlights areas for intervention and for future policy in universities to prevent gender-based violence, to protect students, and to provide support to victimised students.’

Both students said they were grateful to their family and friends for their support and guidance, more especially, their supervisor Dr Anthony Collins.

‘Dr Collins has been hugely instrumental in my academic career. Without his direction, guidance and support I would not have achieved what I have. Thank you!’ said Du Randt.

Howlett advised other researchers to surround themselves with other MA researchers. ‘Find yourself an enthusiastic and supportive supervisor as well as people who brighten up the world with their happiness. It’s so much better than having to do it on your own.’

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Mr Mumbere Maliro of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) graduated recently with his Master of Social Science degree in Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies (CTPS) based on his research into the conflict in DRC. He is one of the first Master’s graduates from the CTPS programme.

Maliro’s thesis was titled ‘Understanding the reasons for Destabilisation and Insecurity in the North Kivu province, DRC’According to Maliro, the research aimed to create an understanding of the causes and dynamics of the conflict, emphasising the roles that citizenship issues and land access have played in the conflict dynamic.

Moreover, the study demonstrated how the conflict is devastating the North Kivu province and how the conflict is rooted in a history heavily influenced by the ethnic identity of the protagonists.

Malio said he believes that conflicts are inextricably linked to the way in which the country’s social and political structures operate.

‘I would hope that my research is read by the Congolese authorities because they are the ones engaged in peace-building efforts in North Kivu. So, if they are unable or ill-disposed to correctly describe the problems and their causes, they cannot hope to identify solutions; they are likely to continue with actions that have limited positive effects on the ground,’ said Maliro.

The graduate expressed his gratitude to family, friends, and supervisor.

‘I am profoundly grateful because the completion of this research would not have been possible without their assistance, especially my Supervisor, Dr Alain Tschudin, for his invaluable guidance, and expert advice,’ said Maliro.

He advised other researchers to be determined, work hard and be prepared to make sacrifices for the good of their studies.

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Understanding different responses to affirmative action in South Africa was the subject of a doctoral thesis by UKZN Psychology Lecturer Shanya Reuben who graduated with her PhD at a recent graduation ceremony.

Her research contributes to what we know about affirmative action, as well as how and why people experience, interpret and understand affirmative action differently. ‘The study provides insight into people’s subjective understandings and experiences about living in a diverse country. It reflects the ways in which affirmative action continues to be a controversial subject which traverses many segments of life,’ she said.

One of the personal highlights of the study, according to Reuben, was collecting data and having the space to discuss real issues with people from diverse backgrounds. ‘It was particularly fascinating to “hear” from participants what I had studied theoretically.’

Reuben said her greatest challenge during her PhD project was juggling her work, home and study commitments. ‘I was newly married, and had an extremely high teaching load. I worked long days – often till late at night here at the University. I gave it my all for three years and spent less time on other aspects of my life. I made the sacrifice and it has now paid off. Even my mother has flown in from Hong Kong to be here for my graduation.’

Reuben thanked her family, friends and supervisors for their support. ‘My supervisors Dr Thandi Magojo and Professor Anna Meyer-Weitz were nothing short of amazing. They were superb as supervisors and so generously gave of their time despite their very busy work schedules.’

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Mr Innocent Ngenzi of Rwanda and Mr Alpha Kosse of the DRC were all smiles as they both graduated with a Master’s degree in Population Studies at a buoyant UKZN Graduation ceremony in Westville yesterday.

Both graduates’ research focused on the HIV/AIDS pandemic, with Ngenzi taking on a situation analysis of HIV testing in five areas/districts in four provinces of South Africa (Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape). The study identified people on the basis of socio-demographic characteristics and examined how these districts can increase the uptake of HIV testing.   

‘This study will make some contribution to the fight against HIV in a poor and uneducated community, by providing advice on how to increase the uptake of HIV testing and allow people to know their status, hence contributing to the prevention of HIV,’ said Ngenzi. 

Kosse based his research on HIV/AIDS and health among the elderly, in particular, the experiences of caregivers living in HIV-affected households. The study looked at the challenges experienced by the elderly living in Lindelani, an informal settlement in KwaZulu-Natal.

‘My dissertation has highlighted the experiences and challenges of elderly people taking on a parenting role in relation to AIDS-orphaned children and looking after AIDS patients. The elderly are to some extent like “hidden” caregivers but they play an important role in the improvement of the well-being of their care-recipients,’ he said.

His study will help understand the universe of these caregivers and the way in which they can be supported.

Both graduates were proud of their achievements despite experiencing language and communication difficulties along the way.

‘Having to speak in English was difficult for me. I also used to work off-campus at night and attend lectures during the day and sometimes when there was a clash between classes and my other commitments I could not attend classes. I had to de-register from a module because I missed three lectures. It was not easy to study properly and submit my assignments on time, but I did it. I’m now graduating,’ said Kosse.

Asked about his future plans, Ngenzi said, ‘Someday when I retire, I’d like to go back to Rwanda. I want my kids to grow up here first and become independent before I go back to my country.’

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Hard work, passion and dedication led to Ms Serena Kesari and Ms Kreshona Pillay graduating with their Masters in Social Science (Industrial Psychology) degrees at a 2013 Graduation ceremony in Westville.

For Pillay, completing her Masters was “one of the greatest accomplishments” of her life. ‘I am thrilled and really proud of myself. Most importantly, this achievement has opened another door for me to reach my goal of being a psychologist,’ said Pillay.

Her research was situated within positive psychology and focused on happiness and psychological capital, and organisational citizenship behaviour of employees in a financial institution.

‘The work environment in financial institutions where deadlines, budgets, routine work and performance issues are common can compromise most people’s sense of happiness. Therefore happiness in the workplace rarely manifests without significant effort from employees themselves,’ she said.

Pillay argued that successful organisations need employees that will do more than their job requirements and go beyond expectations, in other words, perform “organisational citizenship behaviours”.

Pillay, who graduated in the same year as her medical student sister Revosha Pillay, believes that her study has the potential to benefit organisations in South Africa by focusing on the importance of enhancing positive psychological states.

Fellow student Ms Serena Kesari chose to research occupational stress, psychological capital, happiness and turnover intentions amongst teachers. She said the study is likely to be valuable within the South African context, as it draws attention to the problem of turnover intentions amongst South African teachers and examines how positive emotions may help alleviate the problem.

‘It helps form a better understanding of turnover intentions within a stressful occupation such as teaching and acts as a point of departure for research on a larger scale from a positive psychological standpoint,’ she said.

Kesari, however did face a few challenges along the way. ‘Attaining a sample was quite difficult as it took me four months of return visits to schools in Durban to get a sample that could be workable research. The constant question as to whether I would be able to complete this research did linger. However, I knew I had to be consistent and positive.’

Both graduates were thankful for the support and guidance of their family, friends and their supervisor Professor Johanna Buitendach.

They are currently completing an industrial psychology internship at the eThekwini Municipality.

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