Prof Lourens van Staden, Vice-Chancellor and Principal (centre front), celebrating with the Class of 2019 Doctoral recipients.
He added that when one embarks on the journey to acquire a doctoral degree, it is primarily to obtain wisdom. “There might be other motivators such as improving career opportunities or earning power, but for the majority of candidates it is about the passion to explore the unrevealed secrets of a specific subject through research. I am delighted to congratulate you on earning the highest globally recognised academic credential.”
Prof van Staden also cautioned the newly qualified doctors about their responsibilities and the expectations of them in the market. “Holding a doctoral degree is an enormous academic milestone. It certainly has elite value, but more importantly, it signifies that you have attained the greatest level of competence in your field of study. The degree can indicate to employers that you have the necessary analytical skills to carry out rigorous research tasks, because to obtain a PhD degree, you have passed the preliminary qualifying examinations and demonstrated your knowledge of the current debates, concepts and dilemmas in your field of study. You successfully completed a complex process of developing a research proposal, creating a research plan, carrying out research in your field and presenting the results of that research to other experts in the field who have evaluated your work and deemed that it meets the highest standards of the academic world.”
Prof van Staden added that, “in many instances, even more so when you work in an academic environment, your new title brings about new responsibilities, such as becoming a supervisor or mentor to the many students who aspire to obtain this level of academic excellence. You are now part of a unique group of individuals who have climbed the academic ladder to reach the highest level. “
A doctoral degree does not just fall into one’s lap. Having completed this journey, you probably agree that one needs an exemplary support structure to carry you through the experience and journey towards a doctoral degree. Thank you to the partners, family and friends for your unwavering support.
Prof van Staden concluded by acknowledging all the supervisors and study leaders at TUT for their support, guidance, leadership and hard work as well. “Without them, this journey would not have been possible.”
Dr Anita Strauss from the Department of Sport, Rehabilitation and Dental Technology shared her journey towards obtaining a Doctorate with her peers. “I had this friend who continuously asked me why I am doing it. At one stage, she said I was like a Jack Russel, not giving up. It made me reflect deeply on my journey and I realised it was all about this yearning for wisdom, like Prof van Staden said. Having completed my doctorate will definitely make me a better mentor and lecturer and it taught me a lot about perseverance.”
Dr Rostislava Pashkevitch from the Department of Performing Arts expressed her gratitude to the University for giving her the opportunity to complete a doctoral degree. “I have been in the industry for more than 20 years. For me it is all about opening doors for my students, both her and globally, therefore I must set the example by continuously improving myself and my qualifications,” she said.
Dr Malome Prince Shai from the Department of Hospitality Management had a very special story to tell. The Limpopo born and bred Malome, is the first TUT staff member to complete a doctorate with an nGAP grant. The New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP) is a prestigious programme under the Department of Higher Education and Training (the Department), which involves the recruitment of highly capable scholars as new academics. The recruitment of these academics is based on carefully designed and balanced equity considerations and in light of the disciplinary areas of greatest need in the higher education system. The nGAP is currently the biggest programme within the Staffing South Africa’s Universities Framework (SSAUF), a university staff development component under the University Capacity Development Programme (UCDP).
“When I embarked on the journey, I was told I had six years to complete my doctoral degree, but after many conversations with Prof Stanley Mukhola, I realised six years was way too long and we embarked on a plan for me to complete my doctorate in the minimum of three years. This is a fantastic achievement for me and a huge inspiration for young people in Limpopo, where I come from. One of the reasons I embarked on this journey, was exactly that, to motivate and inspire young people,” Dr Shai concluded.