Graduates determined to celebrate

NMU music student Ntlantla Swana, 24, from East London, in a Photoshopped picture of herself wearing a graduation gown
DIGITAL CELEBRATION: NMU music student Ntlantla Swana, 24, from East London, in a Photoshopped picture of herself wearing a graduation gown
Image: SUPPLIED

The dream of finally graduating, walking across the stage and being capped after years of hard work is now a dream deferred for thousands of students across SA.

 Nonetheless, one NMU student Photoshopped a picture of herself wearing a graduation gown and has shared it on social media, and another still plans to wear her gown and celebrate on what was supposed to be her graduation day.

Student graduation ceremonies, which were due to be held in April, have now been postponed until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While many students have been left disappointed, for some it is still an opportunity to celebrate.

NMU music student Ntlantla Swana, 24, from East London, was determined to still graduate in style.

So, the young woman Photoshopped a picture of herself in a graduation gown and splashed it across social media.

Swana, who is now working in Turkey, does not know when she will be able to return home due to the strict global air travel restrictions.

“The first day in varsity is exciting and one cannot wait to finish  one’s studies and graduate, and for most of us, to make our parents proud.

“When all that is no more, it’s so painful,” Swana said.

Swana, who is the first member of her family to graduate, said: “That pride and joy is gone, also the satisfaction that I’ve made my parents proud is gone.

“Everything was planned, my parents invited everyone. That was supposed to be the best day of my life.

“I understand the situation, but it’s not a great feeling.

“Yes, we are graduates but it would have been nicer if we had the ceremony — your name is called, even if it was a minute in the spotlight, it would have been great,” she said.

Lerato Lefoka, 22, from Polokwane in Limpopo, who studied for a National Diploma in Civil Engineering at NMU, was meant to graduate on April 18.

“I was so excited. Every day I imagined myself being called to get my certificate, and on top of that I was going to graduate cum laude.”

Lefoka said she had booked accommodation for her parents in Port Elizabeth for the weekend but had to cancel it because of the postponement.  

“It’s disappointing but it’s life. I’m trying to console myself.

“We were told it would be communicated when we can collect our certificates.”

Lefoka, who is now studying B-tech Urban Engineering, said she hoped one day to celebrate a graduation ceremony for that, should the 2020 graduation ceremonies not take place.

“I will still celebrate it. I can’t let this moment pass me.

“When I get the certificate I will wear my gown and take photos and celebrate,” she said.

University of KwaZulu-Natal student Lwazi Collin Dlamini, 26, who has completed a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, said he had been due to graduate on April 22.

“I had always dreamt of this day to come, not only for the ceremony, but as a reminder that for a black child everything is possible with perseverance and determination.

“Being raised by my grandmother, who took care of me and my siblings, has always been my drive to achieve more and change the situation at home.”

He said it was also disappointing for his family and those who had always supported him.

“I believe that time is our common enemy and dreams denied are not dreams delayed, and my qualifications and skills will stay valid,” he said.

Dlamini congratulated all the graduates of 2020.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate each of you for the hard work, dedication, sleepless nights, through financial strains and depression that comes with institutions of higher education.

“We managed to conquer and all that sweat will bear fruits for the generations to come and we shall inspire others to dream big,” he said.

NMU spokesperson Zandile Mbabela said the graduation ceremonies had been postponed until further notice as the institution recognised it was an important milestone for graduates.

“It is obviously still premature to indicate when the graduation ceremonies will take place but a lot of thought is going into when and how graduation can proceed,” she said.

“We have been and continue to be guided by national directives in all our decision-making, and align our plans to national guidelines.”

Rhodes University and Walter Sisulu University confirmed that their postponed graduation ceremonies would also be held once it was safe to do so.

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