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As an emotional Ncebakazi Siziba crossed the graduation stage to a standing ovation and cheers from the audience, she could not help but shed a tear and say a silent prayer to continue making her late mother proud.

Siziba, who graduated a Bachelor of Social Work, was one of 391 students who were conferred their qualifications in the Faculty of Health Sciences’ schools of Behavioural Sciences and Lifestyle Sciences on Friday morning (12 April).

The moment, however, was a bittersweet one for her as she so wished her mother Nowinile Siziba – who was killed in a car accident in February – was there to witness the fruits of her hard work.

“To be honest, I was not excited about my graduation, though I’m happy to be graduating, because I lost my mom. She was the one person I wished could have come to watch me cross that stage,” she said.

“It was hard for me to accept that she would not be there on my graduation day. She was not just my parent, but my friend and major support system.”

“I was very emotional on that stage. And that standing ovation and ululations from the audience was everything. It made everything feel worthwhile.”

When she found out that she had passed and would be graduating, plans were made towards a massive family celebration at home in Mqanduli.

“The initial plan was that my mother would come back home with me after graduation so that we could have a big party to celebrate as a family. So, since that wish could no longer be fulfilled, I honestly wished that this day would just pass so that I move on and focus on my studies.”

Her mood lifts slightly and her face lights up as she talks about how happy she was that her father William Siziba, sister Nokuphiwa Simanga and brother Nkosinathi Siziba had come to celebrate with her.

Siziba is a former Efata School for the Blind pupil and was among the university’s first cohort of completely blind students in over 20 years, alongside Avukile Jeke and Lubabalo Sapepa, in 2014.

She described her journey at the university as a “very difficult one, both academically and socially”.

“Social work was very challenging for a visually impaired student like me because it contained practical stuff like drawing organograms and ecomaps, making collages, colouring things in and so forth. I also found it difficult to approach lecturers to adapt my presentations and remove practical stuff like that because I didn’t want to seem like I want special treatment,” she said.

“Another challenge for me during my first year in 2014 was being away from home and having to adapt to a new environment.

“My second to fourth year were tough for me because it was practicum all the way. Fourth year was the hardest year I ever experienced because I failed my mid-practicum evaluation, but fortunately I was given a second chance to do a panel presentation and I passed.

“Through it all, though, I am happy and grateful to God almighty that I finished social work despite its obstacles.”

During the autumn graduation period, the University has conferred qualifications on five visually impaired students. These include Jeke and Ntsikelelo Williams with BA Honours I isiXhosa; partially sighted Pelisa Mkwami with an Advanced Diploma in Business Studies; and Mzobanzi Xipula (in absentia) with a Higher Certificate in Law.


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Ms Zandile Mbabela
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Tel: 0415042777