Speaking at the event, Vice-Chancellor Professor Thoko Mayekiso said it was not only a remarkable development in the leadership journey and empowerment of students at the university but also a very positive statement for gender equality.
“Let us join hands for the betterment of UMP, and the Mpumalanga Province as a whole. You are setting the tone for generations of students yet to come, during the most challenging of times. You are taking up leadership at a time like no other. COVID-19 is still hovering over us. Let us not fail to see the resilience of the human spirit,” she said.
“We at UMP will support you and empower you to be able to understand yourselves better, and to deal with the dynamic, fast-changing world with equanimity, tranquillity, grace and decorum. Understand fully and appreciate totally the unique context in which you operate: the University of Mpumalanga.”
Professor Mayekiso further went on to encourage the new leadership to work in unison with all stakeholders to create a culture of dialogue and engagement.
“We are passionate about student matters and that is why at UMP, the Dean of Students reports directly to the VC, unlike other universities where the Dean of Students reports to a Deputy Vice-Chancellor or the Registrar. Feel free to engage with me on matters of leadership, academic matters as well as motherly advice or guidance.”
Professor Mayekiso added that her office and that of the Dean of Students was looking forward to working with the newly inaugurated student leadership.
“I look forward to a great year of working together, to make UMP function at its highest and best, in line with our vision to be an African university leading in creating opportunities for sustainable development through innovation. We, therefore, expect you to work together with the students – leading to advance the vision and mission, and to live the principles of UMP as a values-driven institution.”
She went on to share some successful stories and remarkable leaders of our time and the qualities they possess.
“Think of some of the best-known champions in various sports categories: Lewis Hamilton, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and others. Even though they are highly talented, they work hard and practice. They spend time perfecting their art,” she advised.
“You need to read and learn as much as possible about leaders who made a positive impact in the world. Countries like Iceland, under the leadership of females, have taught the world a thing or two. Search for examples of leaders on the African continent who have excelled, and see what gems you can pick up from their lives.”
The Dean of Students, Dr Paul Maminza, echoed the Vice Chancellor’s sentiments. “The 2020 SRC elections brought a new dawn at UMP. For the first time we have a female SRC President. We also have four female members and three males.”
Dr Maminza added that the University of Mpumalanga encouraged a culture of open dialogue as the University has open communication channels and governance structures. He offered the new leadership this snippet of advice:
“Being a leader is in itself a challenge. The challenges of leadership are threefold: external, coming from people and situations, internal, stemming from within the leader herself, and those arising from the nature of the leadership role. I want to conclude with a quote by Mahatma Ghandi when he said: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow and learn as if you were to live forever.”
Committed to Collaborate
SRC President, Ms Vuyelwa Carol Magagula, said that her leadership comprised mostly of females is committed to continue with the work of those before her.
“We will represent students professionally, we will foster and encourage the growth of our extraordinary organization of experts, and I will personally be of service to as many as I am able.
“I also recognize that this presidential seat as occupied by a woman may appear to be soft, but it carries with it an enormous responsibility for the nation. To take on this responsibility, I have with me the strength and the example of the VC. I open my heart to receive, at this moment, a spark of her immense energy. I am here to open doors so that in the future, many other women can also be president; so that, today, all UMP women may feel proud and happy to be themselves,” said Ms Magagula.
She went on to say that their achievements can never be measured by the quality of speeches made, but by the vigour the student leadership put in to improve the lives of the students.
"I'm sure that this is not necessarily a moment to celebrate, but a moment to gather more strength and drive in preparation to continue in our journey to deliver on our mission to better the lives of our students."
Ms Magagula added that her leadership would seek to enhance students’ educational experiences on and off campus.
“As an SRC, we understand that education does not stop at the classroom door or when we leave UMP spaces – it extends profoundly into our co-curricular life. We need to make sure we contribute meaningfully to the growth and development of our students so they may reach their full potential as leaders and shapers of society,” she added.
“Let us remain true to the authentic mission of UMP, a mission that has been nurtured and is steadily progressing us to a place of distinction and excellence. May we also forge new paths of inquiry and discover new academic opportunities.”
“Let us be cutting-edge, let us occupy with confidence those intellectual spaces that liberate us from the confinement of our narrow rooms of thought. Let us be dynamic and forward-thinking, not only distinctive but distinguished, not only excellent but extraordinary. When this great university meets its challenges head-on – with vision, courage and integrity – it will flourish beyond measure,” Ms Magagula concluded.
@ Story by Cleopatra Makhaga. Pictures @ChrisPlPhoto