By Zama Khoza
The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) honoured 92 exceptional young men and women, who received academic merit scholarships at the 2023 Scholarship Awards Ceremony, in the presence of their families and peers.
The prestigious ceremony recognises and celebrates academic merit at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
This year, the university awarded 1 859 scholarships with a total value of R50.2 million.
“Each award symbolises not just financial support but a vote of confidence in the recipient’s talent and dedication,” said Professor Neil Koorbanally, Programme Director and Dean of Research in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.
In his welcome address, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning, Professor Sandile Songca described the ceremony as “a monumental occasion where we laud the grit, perseverance and indefatigable spirit of our students and their families”.
“As we present these awards, we hope and trust that you will maintain this trajectory of excellence, continuously aiming for unparalleled greatness in all your endeavours. Many of these scholarships bear the names of benefactors and distinguished individuals who have left an indelible mark on history, including luminaries like Archbishop Denis Hurley, Judge Pius Langa, Frene Ginwala, Zac Yacoob and Mariam Babangida,” said Songca.
He encouraged the recipients to be agents of change, to inspire the next generation and contribute to the betterment of the world as they will play a pivotal role in the university’s future, as laid out in its strategic plan for 2023-2032.
Guest speaker, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning at Stellenbosch University, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath congratulated the recipients on their achievement and highlighted the power of education and the responsibility that comes with it.
“This moment is not just a celebration of your achievements; it is a profound acknowledgement of your future potential. Your dedication, hard work and commitment to excellence have earned you this opportunity. You have already demonstrated the qualities of persistence and resilience which will serve as your guiding star throughout your academic journey, as well as your life journey. Receiving a scholarship is not merely a financial award but a vote of confidence in your abilities and your potential to make a difference,” said Ramjugernath.
He added that scholarships are keys that unlock doors to a world of possibilities; encouraging the recipients to be grateful for this opportunity and give back, persevere and always remember why they started their journey.
“Strive to be impactful, consider how your knowledge and skills can be used to address the pressing issues in the world. Community builders know they are not alone and build a support network with peers, mentors and advisors who will assist them to navigate challenges and celebrate their victories. And be curious in life as the pursuit of knowledge should not stop with a degree; keep exploring and seeking to understand the world through life-long learning. Receiving a scholarship is about the transformation that education can bring to your life and those around you,” he added.
Previous scholarship recipient, Siddharthiya Pillay encouraged the students to take advantage of opportunities to study overseas and broaden their horizons, understand the importance of interconnectedness and embrace themselves in order to make their own unique impact.