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Wits welcomes freshers to embrace new academic chapter

- Wits University

Wits University officially welcomed 6 300 first-year students to its campus during the annual Welcome Day event.

Welcome Day 2024

The new Witsies were accompanied by their families for their final send off to start a new chapter in their academic journey. This annual introductory celebration showcased the vibrant Wits culture of spirited singing and dancing passed down through the decades.

Welcome Day traditionally serves to communicate the vision and ethos of the University as well as offer advice to new students as they embark on their academic journey.

Wits received over 140 000 applications from eager learners across the country. Those who excelled, secured their spots among the country's intellectual elite at one of the best institutions in Africa.

The Dean of Student Affairs, Jerome September, took to the stage to congratulate the first-years who gathered at the Digs Field on main campus. "This is going to be an incredible journey for you. I hope you appreciate the privilege that you got to sit at a world-class university, having come through the front door,” said September.

Dean of Student Affairs Jerome September welcomes first-years at Welcome Day 2024

In his welcome speech, the Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Zeblon Vilakazi,  congratulated the newcomers for selecting a university known for its intellectual rigor.

“What makes Wits truly exceptional is not only its rich history but also its legacy of excellence in academia. As we recently celebrated our centenary, we reflected on a hundred years of innovation, scholarship, and impact,” said Vilakazi. He also highlighted Wits' commitment to creating a safer environment in and around the campus.

“Through JoziMyJozi, Wits is partnering with industry and local stakeholders to breathe new life into Braamfontein and its surrounding areas. Our goal is to create a vibrant, inclusive, and safe environment where students, faculty, staff, and residents alike can study, work, and play without fear or hesitation.”

Students and guests were welcomed by an array of academics and change-makers from the Wits leadership. Mr. Isaac Shongwe, the Chairperson of the Wits Council, commended students for choosing Wits.

“I assure you that you have chosen well. By choosing Wits, you are entering a lively, challenging, diverse and very warm and exciting community,” said Shongwe, calling students to action to be the leaders of tomorrow to change the world.

Dr Judy Dlamini, whose role as Wits Chancellor is to serve as the moral compass of the University, encouraged new Witsies to give it their best.

“Education is everything, it allows you to pivot, but for you to be able to pivot, the marks matter. From day one, give it your best. Align yourself with people who take their studies as seriously,” said Dlamini.

Wits SRC 2024 President Bukisa Boniswa (center) at Welcome Day.

The Chancellor’s speech was followed by the Wits SRC President Bukisa Boniswa who, like speakers ahead of her, hailed the newbies for making it to Wits. She also outlined some of the SRC’s fight against gender-based violence and financial exclusion, and encouraged students to approach the SRC leaders for assistance with regards to their university experience.

Guest speaker Nonkululeko Pitje, a Wits Alumnus and the Chief Executive Officer of Discovery Corporate and Employee Benefits, spoke on the importance of giving yourself 10 000 hours and chances to get it right.

"Understand the concept of opportunity using the art of play in this new playground called Wits. It's a playground where you should not stand on the sidelines; it will challenge you from various perspectives in education, sports, and social life, providing abundant opportunities for you to embrace who you are becoming,” said Pitje.

First-year students accompanied by family gathered at the Digs Field for the Welcome Day event.

In closing, September left parents with reassuring words that their children will receive the necessary support, growth opportunities, and a secure home during their academic career at Wits, such as the Counselling and Careers Development Unit, Student Representative Council, and Clubs and societies.

The journey to success and excellence for first-years continues with the Gateway to Success program from Monday, 29 January  to Friday 9 February. It is a compulsory two-week program integrating academic content, skills development, student life, health and wellness, and orientation into Wits