Countdown to the 2020 Summer Graduation begins

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The countdown to the University of Fort Hare’s first-ever Virtual Summer Graduation has begun. Owing to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the university has once again opted to put together a virtual graduation to celebrate this significant milestone. 

Similar to the Autumn Virtual Graduation, the ceremony will be flighted on YouTube and will be shared on the university’s social media pages and website on 17 December. Under normal circumstances, UFH graduations are held in May (Autumn) and September, also known as the Spring Graduation. 
The ceremonies are usually held in East London and Alice, respectively. The graduands who will “walk” the virtual stage are students, who under normal circumstances, would have graduated during the Spring Graduation season in September. So far, close to 600 students have been identified to be eligible to graduate during the ceremony. 
The breakdown is as follows: 
• 461 Undergraduates 
• Honours (total figure pending confirmation) 
• 77 Masters and 
• 15 PhDs The numbers may still increase pending conclusion of internal processes. 
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. Ntsongwana 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 Ntsongwana 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.
Tandokazi Tando Mtshayeni – PA to DVC-IS Graduates cum laude
Tandokazi Mtshayeni, the PA to the Deputy ViceChancellor: Institutional Support, is set to graduate her Honours Degree in Industrial Psychology cum laude. She is part of the group that will be honoured during the virtual Summer Graduation scheduled to take place on 17 December 2020. 
Ms Mtshayeni has been providing administrative support to the DVC-IS support for the past five years. Hungry for personal growth and determined to improve her contribution to the institution, she enrolled for her honours degree in 2019. 
“As an employee I know the challenges that we face. With this qualification, I want is to improve my performance and contribution to the organisation and to enhance the support I give to my colleagues.” Juggling full-time employment and studies was trying at times, says Mtshayeni. “What kept me going was a promise I made to myself, that I will not fail and will finish what I have started. I did this with the support of my family, friends and colleagues. I am also grateful to my boss at the time for her constant support and motivation.” 
by Aretha Linden