2020 Virtual Summer Graduation's: Zintle Ntshongwana- youngest PhD graduate

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29-year-old Zintle Ntshongwana will be honoured as the youngest doctoral student during the UFH Virtual Summer Graduation scheduled to take place on 17 December 2020 where she will graduate with a PhD in Social Work. The title of her thesis is: Mitigating the effects of family violence on children: Assessing the effectiveness of social work interventions at Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, Eastern Cape. Ntshongwana has always excelled academically. It thus comes as no surprise that she has completed her doctoral studies at such a young age.
She was born in Mqwangqweni location, Ngqeleni, in Eastern Cape Province. In 2011 she secured funding from the Department of Social Development to pursue a Bachelor of Social Work Degree which she obtained in record time. 
Due to her excellent results, she proceeded to enrol for a Master’s degree and graduated in 2017. The first year of her MA studies was funded by the Ada and Bertie Levenstein bursary and the final year was funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF). In the same year (2017) she registered for a PhD which was funded through a National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) scholarship.
Ms Ntshongwana is a registered Social Worker with the South African Council for Social Service Professions. She also holds a certificate in Civic Leadership through the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). She has presented papers at national and international conferences and has published three articles in accredited journals. So far, she has written four papers and two of them have been accepted for publication. She has also co-authored a book chapter that has been accepted for publication.
Inspiration behind the topic
She says her research aims to empower victims and advocates for accountability and rehabilitation of perpetrators. According to her, the Department of Social Development is playing a major role to curb and eradicate family violence by providing programmes and other initiatives. 
However, she feels that nothing much has been done to evaluate the impact that such services have on the well-being of children as victims. “It is so sad that most of the time children tend to be direct and indirect victims of such violence. Moreover, I believe that violence is not just a crime but rather a pandemic that needs to be prevented and cured. It is a disease because it starts in the mind before one can actually perpetrate it. Therefore, it needs a holistic approach that will include both victims and perpetrators of the violence.”
Towards the end of her thesis, Ms Ntshongwana recommends a model that will assist in eradicating family violence. “The model offers a multi-sectoral intervention, which is about working cooperatively and jointly towards a shared goal - to eradicate family violence and improve the effectiveness of interventions that social workers use in helping victims of family violence to cope with its effects.”
''I would like to thank my supervisor, Professor Pius Tanga for his guidance, patience, support, mentorship and leadership during my studies and mostly, for believing in me. It was really a great pleasure and honour to work with him. The journey has been long, tiring and tedious but thanks to his guidance, we were able to complete the journey''. 
Ntshongwana says she hopes her qualification will grant her the opportunity to participate in policy making in order to apply her research findings. She hopes to influence policy decisions that speak to the people on the ground.
By Aretha Linden