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Hope amidst despair

- Wits University

6 712 students will graduate from Wits during the July graduation season.

Graduation day

A host of problem solvers, defenders of the truth, and advocates for justice, will graduate from Wits University during the July 2021 graduation season, amidst a global pandemic and social unrest in the country. Yet, Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Zeblon Vilakazi describes this as a ‘moment of hope’ for humanity.

[WATCH] the online graduation ceremonies.

“We live in a historic moment characterised by uncertainty and change. You are graduating amidst a global pandemic, for which there is not yet a cure. Our young democracy is under threat, and civil unrest is widespread. Our society is plagued by inequality and poverty. Our economy is flailing, and unemployment is rife,” says Vilakazi.

“Yet, I remain hopeful because of you. And because I know that great societies can flourish in times of flux. We are rapidly adapting to change in our personal, professional, and social spaces. This moment provides us with a moment to pause and to reflect on our political, healthcare, and socio-economic challenges, and to hit the reset button as we reimagine our futures. And you will play a vital role in this process. It will be no easy feat, but we must muster our collective courage and strength to seek hope in despair, knowledge in failure, innovation in disorder, and our common humanity through advancing the public good.

This ceremony represents a fortuitous moment of hope and inspiration, an opportunity to chart a new course that can propel us into a new beneficial world order, for good.”

Solving current problems

A total of 6 712 students will graduate this July. Of these, 169 are PhD graduands whose research seeks to find the solutions to real world problems.

These include important topics such as investigating:

  • Why do women commit neonaticide? (Neonaticide is the act of a mother taking the life of her new-born within its first 24 hours of life),
  • Why do HIV-infected adolescents continue to carry the burden of oral health disease in Johannesburg which impacts on their quality of life?, and
  • Why do women’s organisations remain on the margins as donor recipients in Africa?

On a lighter note, an engineering student also explored the physics behind tattoos and understanding the interaction of tattoo ink with ultrasound. These are just a few of the many studies pushing the frontiers of knowledge for our collective benefit. These students join over 200 000 Wits graduates making a contribution to society.

Miss South Africa graduates

The reigning Miss South Africa, Shudufhadzo Musida also graduates with an honours degree in International Relations. She is outspoken on issues related to mental health and gender-based harm in society, amongst others.   

A South African first

For the first time, a PhD student, Ms Silvia Delsanto has graduated with a joint degree from Wits University and Turin University in Italy, in the field of physics.

“Our graduates give us hope that we will rise and meet new challenges with the same bravery and intellect demonstrated in the past. We will continue to develop excellent graduates who advance society, conduct world-class research and foster innovation, and use our location in Africa to lead from the Global South,” concludes Vilakazi.

The number of graduates in the July graduation season by Faculty is as follows:

  • Commerce, Law and Management (2 199),
  • Humanities (1 567),
  • Engineering and the Built Environment (1 267),
  • Science (1 191), and
  • Health Sciences (488).

The next graduation cluster is scheduled to take place in December 2021. For more information, visit the graduation webpage.