Rhodes University honours 100 exemplary students

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Director of Student Affairs, Nomangwane Mrwetyana [Pic credit: Vusumzi Tshekema]
Director of Student Affairs, Nomangwane Mrwetyana [Pic credit: Vusumzi Tshekema]

By Sylvia Tanya Mugwagwa


On Thursday, 06 October 2022, the Rhodes University community celebrated the achievements of some of its most brilliant students in various academic, leadership, sporting, and cultural fields. The Rhodes University Top 100 Awards were established in 2009 and were introduced as a tool to honour and celebrate student excellence.

In her welcome, Rhodes University Director of Student Affairs Nomangwane Mrwetyana expressed how the awards recognised students taking advantage of the opportunity to wholeheartedly get involved in the extra-mural activities the University has on offer while maintaining a solid academic record. She further expressed how proud she was that Rhodes University was reviving the awards after a two-year hiatus (due to COVID-19). “It is important to honour and recognise the positive contributions students make, not only to the University but to the entire community of Makhanda,” she said. “I would like to remind all students to strive to embody ethical leadership as they go out into the world.”

Aside from encouraging students to live a balanced life, the awards aim to create further opportunities for winners to develop their futures, inspire the spirit of service leadership and volunteerism, and to build a fellowship of ‘achievers’ who can maintain a network and communication channel with one another.

Internationalisation Project Officer Dingaan Booi presented the General Excellence Award, for which he was the category judge. He explained that the General Excellence Award is presented to candidates who have excelled in a variety of avenues of their life as Rhodes University students. “These awardees are individuals who had many talents and managed to juggle several aspects of student life. They not only excelled in each but displayed student leadership throughout their career at the University,” he said.

The following students were awarded the Rhodes University Top 100 General Excellence Award in 2022:

  • Botlhale Modisaotsile
  • Cebisile Mbongwa
  • Emma Wagenaar
  • Handsome Ndlovu
  • Jason Shephard
  • Kristen Burgess
  • Matimu Shivambu
  • Mpho Kopheli
  • Nqobile Nzimande
  • Samantha Carolus
  • Sandile Lubisi
  • Taonga Phiri
  • Ulemu Makolija
  • Vhenekai Kashangura
  • Zikhona Mtwa
  • Viwe Makeleni

The next award presented was the Community Engagement Award, by category judge and Community Engagement Coordinator Anna Talbot. “These individuals had participated in organised and directed Rhodes University community volunteering programmes and had depicted notable leadership and social responsibility within the community engagement space,” she said.

The following students were awarded the Rhodes University Top 100 Community Engagement Award in 2022:

  • Daniel Roodt
  • Emma Wagenaar
  • Kristen Burgess
  • Lian May
  • Luyanda Noluthando Hadebe
  • Monica Lerato Mathebula
  • Nobesuthu Mnkandla
  • Panashe Mildred Maneya
  • Quinlan Caiger
  • Sivenathi Duma
  • Takudzwa Makuwa
  • Uthandile Samela

The Academic Excellence Awards were announced by Tshepo Malebana, the incoming 2023 Rhodes University SRC Academic Councillor. The Academic Excellence Award honours students who are top achievers in their faculty, with each Dean nominating four candidates who have received the highest marks in their respective faculties.

The following students were awarded the Rhodes University Top 100 Academic Achievement Award in 2022:

  • Law
    • Fezekile Dhlamini
    • Jason Shephard
    • Junaid Nyker
    • Mpokiseng Morengoa
    • Vhenekai Kashangura           
  • Education
    • Christen Nicole Puffett
    • Danya Janet Botha
    • Kayla Lauren Asherwood
    • Lorna Caitlin Maccallum
    • Panashe Mbiva
    • Tate Smith     
  • Humanities
    • Bianca Jardim
    • Caitlin Barton
    • Emma Cole
    • Fadzai Jimu
    • Jonathan Hughes  
  • Commerce
    • Benjamin Spies
    • Brysn Jacquire
    • Lithemba Mbengo
    • Nkosinathi Nonkonyana
    • Ntsako Simango       
  • Pharmacy
    • Anele Sibanda
    • Davids Simasiku
    • Handsome Ndlovu
    • Siphokazi Dludla
    • Tinashe Mashayamombe
  • Science
    • Abongile Booi
    • Amanda Gambiza
    • Emily Morgan
    • Stephanie Dwyer
    • Vimbayinashe Tambudze

The next award presented was the Arts, Media, Society & Cultural Award by the category judge Sikhumbuzo Makandula, a Fine Art lecturer at the University. He explained how the Arts, Media, Society & Cultural Award aims to recognise students who display excellence, talent and/or leadership roles in the cultural sphere at Rhodes University. “The recipients this year are painting a bright future for South African media and entertainment,” he stated.

The following students were awarded the Rhodes University Top 100 Arts, Media, Society & Cultural Award in 2022:

  • Matimu Shivambu
  • Thandeka Mfinyongo

The Ubuntu Award was presented by the category judge Sakhe Ntlabezo, who is the Programme Manager for the Makhanda Circle of Unity. “One cannot excel in life without understanding what it means to be a person,” he said. “The recipients of this award provided distinguished service and contribution toward promoting the University, the community, and the country’s national interests and values of ubuntu.

The following students were awarded the Rhodes University Top 100 Ubuntu Award in 2022:

  • Asanthe Phalatse
  • Lazarus Kgageng
  • Nobesuthu Mnkandla
  • Nqobani Dabengwa
  • Papama Yose

The athletes were the next to be recognised through the Sports Award, which recognised various students contributing significantly and attaining multiple accolades within the Rhodes University Sports community.

The following students were awarded the Rhodes University Top 100 Sports Award in 2022:

  • Phumelela Booi
  • Jesse Stander
  • Matthew Strachan
  • Bradley van Heerden
  • Ephraim Nerombe
  • Alexandreo Talbot

The Health and Wellness Award was presented by Counselling Psychologist Thobile Ncane, who expressed that this award honoured students who were not only capable of caring for themselves but were proactive and passionate about caring for others. “This honours students who have created wellness programs and initiatives that improved productivity, engagement and overall health of the student body,” she said.

The following students were awarded the Rhodes University Top 100 Health and Wellness Award in 2022:

  • Nomonde Mdluli
  • Siphesihle Mvula

Ms Avuxeni Tyala, the incoming 2023 SRC President, expressed how she was honoured to present the Student Leadership Award to her fellow leaders. “This award recognises leadership potential and evidence of high performance in leadership positions at Rhodes University. These may include but are not limited to leadership in residences, social justice, responsiveness and the SRC,” she explained.

The following students were awarded the Rhodes University Top 100 Student Leadership Award in 2022:

  • Anda Mtshintsho
  • Bongiwe Sibiya
  • Bonolo Moche
  • Botlhale Modisaotsile
  • Kwanele Siyengo
  • Lerato Pae
  • Lian May
  • Matimu Shivambu
  • Mela Mpiti
  • Melody Chauke
  • Milca Matariro
  • Mpilwenhle Moleya
  • Nobesuthu Mnkandla
  • Omphulusa Nengwekhulu
  • Panashe Maneya
  • Putuma Balintulo
  • Samridhi Sharma
  • Tagen de Wet
  • Takudzwa Makuwa
  • Tamara Chinganya
  • Taonga Phiri
  • Thobani Ndebele
  • Vhenekai Kashangura
  • Vuyelwa Moyo
  • Yamkela Ntshakaza
  • Zikhona Mtwa

The evening was concluded with a vote of thanks and closing remarks from Mr Saph’ulwandisile Vika, the Residence Life, Support and Student Development Manager at Rhodes University. He thanked the various deans, directors of divisions, staff, the 2022 and 2023 SRC and recipients of the 2022 Top 100 Awards for their attendance and participation in making the event possible. He congratulated the recipients again and proudly said, “As parents and staff of the University, we can relax and say we leave the world in great hands.”