Historic first as WSU students graduate online

Walter Sisulu University will held its first virtual graduation ceremony on Friday.
UNPRECEDENTED: Walter Sisulu University will held its first virtual graduation ceremony on Friday.

Walter Sisulu University held its first-ever online graduation ceremony for 6,147 graduates from its class of 2020 on Friday.

Vice-chancellor Prof Rob Midgley described the event as “unique” but insisted it would not replace regular graduation ceremonies in future.

The ceremony was streamed on the institution’s Facebook page, Keith Ngesi Radio, as well as Bay TV.

Addressing graduates, Midgley said the virtual graduation ceremony offered WSU an opportunity to experience the digital revolution first-hand.

Midgley said the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) enabled the university to continue important traditions amid a national lockdown.

He said unlike previous graduates, the class of 2020 would be able to brag about having been part of a pioneering event in WSU’s history.

Midgley said though the coronavirus had thrown the world into a state of unprecedented turmoil, which saw departments, business, industry, schools and universities disrupted, the show had to go on.

I hope this event will make you feel special.

“The academic journey was not an easy one. Hardships varied.

“I hope graduates will be able to celebrate this with their families at home but do so within the confines of the lockdown regulations.”

He also told graduates that their certificates would only be issued once normal university operations resumed.

He said students should look out for SMSES and notices on various platforms like the official WSU Facebook page and the university’s website www.wsu.ac.za, where a graduation booklet with all the names of the 2020 graduates was also available.

Esethu Ntshiliza, who graduated with a human resource management diploma, thanked her family for their support.

Her mother, Nomthandazo Ntshiliza, said she was very proud of her eldest child.

“It was difficult as we would apply only to be told that the universities were full.

“I had to fight to get her to school but in the end she was enrolled at WSU.”

Nolubabalo Maqungo, who graduated with a diploma in public management, said she was the first person in her family to attend university.

She said she hoped to one day have a proper graduation ceremony which her family could attend and celebrate with her.

However, she said she understood the current situation with everyone having to abide by the lockdown regulations.

WSU convocation president advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC congratulated the graduates, their parents and extended families, but warned them that a lot still lay ahead.

You carried a torch for your own people. You carried the torch for your parents,” Ngcukaitobi said.