University of Pretoria's 11 000 in virtual graduation
During the online ceremony 234 doctorates and 1492 master's degrees were conferred by vice-chancellor and principal Professor Tawana Kupe.
He said he conducted the virtual graduation in the context of a Covid-19 global pandemic to enable the students to formally graduate so that they could get their certificates and get on with their lives.
During a speech to the students, Kupe referred to the book Love in the Time of Cholera written by Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
He explained that the novel referenced the cholera outbreaks in the 19th and 20th centuries in the Caribbean, which were eventually contained, although millions of people lost their lives.
“The virtual graduation ceremony will stay in our memories because of the extraordinary way in which the virus has brought the whole world to a standstill.
"It is a time of anxiety, fear, panic and stress about the fragility of human life. Thousands have died, and more are dying.”
He said students would receive their printed certificates during ceremonies set to take place later this year.
For those who needed them sooner, more information on obtaining their printed copies would be communicated as soon as the national lockdown had been lifted.
This year's autumn graduation ceremonies were scheduled to take place from April 7 to May 8, but had been postponed due to the physical distancing protocols.
The university is among institutions at the forefront of fighting the virus, ranging from its academics participating in state committees and institutions like the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
They are involved in testing and treating infected people, conducting research on possible vaccines, as well as using 3D-printing to produce protective materials for healthcare professionals.
Kupe said this was over and above UP's faculty of health sciences staff being in the front-line in hospitals treating people in the province.
“When the virus has been defeated we will hold celebratory ceremonies where graduates can walk across the stage in the presence of family and friends, take photographs, and go home for further celebrations,” he said.
He urged graduates who were now part of the university's more than 300000 alumni to go out there and promote the university and support it in the best way.
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