The Rhodes University’s Community Engagement Division hosted a momentous Community Engagement Awards ceremony last night to honour and recognise student volunteers and community partners for their contribution towards building a more just and caring Grahamstown.
Sanele Ngubo, 20, walked away with the coveted award of the night, the Gold Award for Excellence in community engagement. The Bachelor of Commerce student is a student leader of the GADRA matric school mentoring programme for the second consecutive year. He ensures that his group of 30 mentees stay motivated and are well prepared for tertiary learning.
“I do not see community engagement as an extra activity to my studies; it is at the core of my existence. Student leaders need to be organised, reliable and creative, and these skills benefit my advancement. We take on duties which require us to be aware of the ethical responsibilities we have with our community partners,” said the reserved Ngubo.
The second highly contested award of the night, Community Partner of the Year went to Siyazama pre-school, which caters for children up six years of age. The school impressed the judges with their vegetable garden that serves the school and the community, ensuring food security for many households in Joza.
Keynote speaker for the night, Luzuko Jacobs, Director for the Communication and Advancement division, highlighted the importance of a collective towards nation building.
“I consider myself privileged to be in the company and to pay tribute to young women, men and good hearted people who have made their self-empowerment through the transformation of the community, the theatre of their operation. Your commitment to community engagement serves as a reminder to all of us, of our common mission: to honour our diversity, to grow together and to fight for human dignity and social justice,” said Jacobs.
The Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, a champion of community engagement endeavours was particularly impressed with the scope of work being done by the Community Engagement division and Rhodes students.
“I am arguably the most proud Vice-Chancellor in the country to have a community around me that understands that every day is an opportunity to make a difference in our lives, and those of others around us. Universities exist within a particular social, economic, cultural, political and historical context and are an integral part of the community in which they exist,” he encouraged.
Community Engagement at Rhodes University is diverse and widespread across all faculties. Some of the most successful projects spearheaded by the Community Engagement division include the Vice Chancellor’s Nine Tenths Mentoring Programme, Student Volunteer Programme & Early Childhood Development Residence Programme, and partnerships with up to fifteen organisations, Parent Engagement Programme, Engaged Learning and Research among others.
“Community Engagement is rewarding, especially when the main players are young, vibrant and inspirational people. Our team is mostly comprised of students, learners and teachers who are immersed in a culture of problem solving. This year we saw a big growth in numbers for the Student Volunteer Programme and tonight is a celebration of all these people and their work,” said Diana Hornby, Director for Community Engagement (RUCE).
RUCE has over 400 hundred student volunteers involved in almost all the projects on offer. The division recently added a new project ‘epistemic justice’ that focuses on a more academic and research orientated side of community engagement. Through funding from the National Research Fund, Dr Sharli Paphitis and her team of postgraduate students seek to marry knowledge acquired in tertiary, with communal/indigenous knowledge for serving communities.
The main award Winners
- Student Researcher of the Year: Cathy Gush and Bennett Ryan
- Residence/Hall of the Year: Oppidan Hall
- Student Volunteer of the Year/ Gold Award: Sanele Ngubo
- Partner of the Year: Siyazama Pre-School
Click below for speeches
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