No matter where you find yourselves in the months and years ahead, wherever you may be in South Africa, and whatever twists and turns your careers may take in the coming decades, your graduation today brings with it two distinguishing features. You are the first to have boldly navigated the unchartered waters of a killer global pandemic that disrupted your past and most important academic year in ways that could not have been imagined, and – because of this tenacity – you have become an alumnus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
I am therefore especially honoured to welcome all graduands to that massive organisation and University structure known as alumni, which falls under the banner of Convocation.
By virtue of completing a qualification at UKZN, you automatically become a member of Convocation which is represented in Council – the highest decision-making structure of corporate governance at the University. You now have a voice in UKZN governance matters!
Sincere congratulations to you all. The academic qualification you receive from the University of KwaZulu-Natal is your passport to the future that you have been aspiring to for yourself, naturally, and just as importantly, to the contributions you can and need to make for your community and society.
You have not only personally experienced that life can be unexpected but have shown that no matter the circumstances, education can and must continue. While the mostly unknown world of work beckons, you are experts in overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve your goals.
Our Alumni have an important contribution to make in the face of our political landscape, a struggling economy, unemployment, shortages of skills, financial constraints to further education and more, along with the health and economic challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic,
We all know the link between development in a country and the education of its people. Education helps build thriving communities and boosts the economy. Youth who have no access to higher education end up in poverty and are tempted into a life involving drugs and crime. In a country fraught with so many socio economic challenges, such a gap in access to education creates a cycle of desperation and inequality where the pandemic of gender-based violence and femicide thrive.
You have the opportunity to define your role in our future economy and sector of choice.
On a very positive note amid the concern of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am grateful to UKZN, our alma mater, for again organising this Summer Virtual Graduation Ceremony allowing all those involved to celebrate the important occasion.
Graduands, please take a moment, perhaps a few minutes, to reflect on your campus experience over the years, rejoicing in it with friends and family. This is a unique time and experience in your lives.
This is only the beginning – the sky is the limit for you! I urge you to flex your muscles and go out there and Inspire Greatness in all that you do.
Good luck in your future endeavours and please: stay safe and take care.
Mr Fanle Sibisi
President: UKZN Convocation