Joyful celebrations as KZN mom graduates with daughter
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DURBAN - A mother and daughter graduated together at one of four University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) virtual graduation ceremonies yesterday.
Dr Dumile Gumede graduated with a PhD in health promotion and her daughter, Lindelwa Msweli, graduated with an MSc in ecological sciences.
Gumede’s doctoral research investigated intergenerational family relationships between grandparents and their adolescent grandchildren in a rural community in KwaZulu-Natal where HIV prevention interventions were implemented.
In a statement today, UKZN said the special relationship between Gumede and Msweli came full circle when they shared in each other’s joy as newly conferred graduates.
Msweli said graduating alongside her mother was a blessing from God.
“Everything I am is because of my family; they are a gift from God and no one knows me as well as they do. My mother taught me to be a go-getter and to identify opportunities, and instilled a strong work ethic and resilience,” she said.
The university said the journey to Gumede’s PhD was a long one as she had to contend with the difficulties of life as a single mum.
At the age of 19, while studying full-time for an undergraduate degree at the then University of Natal, Gumede gave birth to her first-born, Msweli.
“Despite her best efforts she did not manage to complete her studies in the allocated time and was academically excluded,” said UKZN.
However despite these challenges, Gumede did not let her difficulties and the associated stigma prevent her from pursuing her dreams, the institution said. She re-enrolled four years later as a part-time student in community and development studies at the university’s Open Learning Network while paying off her student loan and caring for her daughter.
“Now that I have come so far in my academic journey, I feel I can truly forgive myself for not having completed my studies all those years ago. There’s no longer a blemish, I achieved my goal in the end,” said Gumede.
UKZN said during Gumede’s studies she was awarded a fellowship to attend a two-month summer school on survey research techniques at the University of Michigan.
This was a life-changing experience for Gumede, who was the only undergraduate student selected for the fellowship, said the university.
She was later appointed by the Africa Health Research Institute as a field worker in Mtubatuba, the community in which she lived for most of her life, and she is now lecturing at the Durban University of Technology’s Centre for General Education.
“I enjoy seeing the younger generation critically interrogating who they are and thinking deeply about themselves and what they want to be. My own journey shaped my teaching philosophy and commitment to assisting students to achieve academic success,” said Gumede.
For her Master’s degree, Msweli researched the effects of indigenous and exotic Southern African ungulates on seed dispersal and germination of alien invasive fruiting plants. This work filled a gap in knowledge of the dispersal of invasive alien plants by Southern African ungulates.
Msweli said she was looking forward to her PhD studies at UKZN’s Centre for Functional Biodiversity on the urban ecology of the rock hyrax (dassie) in urban areas in KwaZulu-Natal.
UKZN hosted four virtual graduation ceremonies for graduates who completed their studies between April and August this year.
The university conferred a total of 2 042 degree certificates, 1 108 of which were awarded to undergraduate recipients and 934 to postgraduates.
A total of 919 qualifications were conferred in the College of Humanities, 518 in the College of Law and Management Studies, 395 in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, and 210 in the College of Health Sciences.
The ceremony featured congratulatory messages by the deputy vice-chancellors, deans, the SRC president and the convocation president.
“We are proud of all our graduates and wish them well in their future endeavours,” said UKZN.