Celebrating the achievements and successes of former students, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University hosted its annual Alumni Awards on Friday night (10/03/17), with recipients ranging from international cricket referees to a computer genius and a local dairy farmer.
The awards are intended to recognise local and international success stories of graduates who have not only climbed the corporate ladder but who have also become inspiring leaders and agents of change.
NMMU’s director of alumni relations, Paul Geswindt, said graduating was a success story in itself but some alumni excelled in their disciplines and professions.
“We are proud, as an alma mater, that our alumni are impacting so positively on society, both locally and globally,” he said.
Ten alumni received awards in three categories: alumni achievers, rising stars and a special lifetime achievement award.
The latter went to Cumngce Gawe, the institution’s first black graduate. He started his studies at the then PE Technikon in 1980 and received a National Diploma in Industrial Administration. Since 1986 he has served NMMU and the previous PE Technikon in various capacities.
Over his career, he held several top business positions, including chairing the Eastern Cape Development Corporation, co-founding Newport Projects (now Newport Construction) and serving as provincial manager at Maxima Global.
“I feel extremely honoured and I receive this award on behalf of all the unsung heroes,” Gawe said.
He said the institution had changed significantly over the years.
“It’s like chalk and cheese. It has grown in all aspects – not just in numbers but quantitatively as well.
“Student demographics have changed significantly and so has the [management]. It is a true reflection of South Africa,” he said.
As one of the recipients of an alumni achiever award, Professor Lukas Snyman said it was very nostalgic for him to return to NMMU.
Snyman studied physics and mathematics and also taught at the university before embarking on an illustrious career. “It is very special for me to return and a big honour to receive the award,” he said.
NMMU vice-chancellor Professor Derrick Swartz said the awards were a way of recognising the success and achievements of alumni who were role models for the younger generation.
“It is a way to showcase a crucial inter-generational link between the past and the present through great role models,” he said.