Congratulations to the graduating class of 2021 and welcome to all of you to this virtual Graduation Ceremony. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic we are constrained in meeting face to face, but know that recording and honouring your success virtually has the same significance and meaning as it would have, had we been able to gather in person.
Today we come together to celebrate our students, staff and community – a moment in our collective history where we pay tribute to the many achievements under very challenging and unprecedented conditions.
We also reflect on our deep personal losses. We remember loved ones both near and far, and we give thanks to every single person who supported you in achieving academic success – your parents, guardians, family, friends and lecturers.
It has without doubt been a year of unparalleled turmoil in the higher education space. At UKZN we have also had our fair share of internal turmoil and restlessness, demands and concerns.
But here, right now, is your time to celebrate your success through your determination, dedication, and resilience in remaining. You have achieved an important pinnacle in your pursuit of higher education, knowledge and skill to prepare you for your journey ahead. The world is ever-changing, and the recognition of your efforts awarded to you today, your personal academic achievements, will serve as a career-long foundation to propel you ahead in your respective pursuits.
Of course it won’t be easy, but your resilience and tenacity that brought you today will be the compass and drivers that help you achieve your future passions. In all that you do it will be about hard work and commitment, the very same skills that earned you your UKZN qualification.
Graduation day means different things to each of us. Yet a common thread is that one of celebration earned through dedication and determination. Today we praise you and reward you for a job well done. And while we cannot celebrate together, we take great joy that you will each celebrate in your own customs and traditions when we are done here.
As a student at UKZN you have been exposed to many different academic and societal learnings. These lessons will empower you in your next chapter in the society. The pandemic has also shown us that both collective and individual responsibility are important elements to our success.
The trials of the pandemic have shown us quite vividly how important it is to reach out to one another … to lend a helping hand, to involve ourselves in our communities, to support each other, to showing kindness and humanity in all that we do.
As you venture into the world you too will have to ponder on your life contribution and the world you want to live in.
As a University, we too will continue to focus our knowledge beyond ourselves and apply our education and research to empower and develop our wider society and our economy.
Rest assured that as we say goodbye today we do so with great pride, knowing that your future success and continued prosperity will always be ours too – for every student that walks through our doors is equally important, and we trust and know that you will keep the UKZN flag flying high.
I wish each of you great success in the road ahead. Be open to new ideas, opportunities and learnings. But most of all stay safe.
Congratulations once again.
Professor Nana Poku
Vice-Chancellor and Principal