By Sasha Broom
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 6 of VARSITY News.
On Monday 22nd July, Vice-Chancellor Mamokgheti Phakeng was awarded a Doctor of Science, honoris causa, from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. The award is a symbol of high esteem and is described by the University as “being awarded in recognition of outstanding achievement and distinction in a field or activity consonant with the university’s mission.”
According to UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola, Phakeng – who already holds a PhD in Mathematics Education from the University of Witwatersrand – was one of the record-breaking eleven women (out of sixteen individuals) to receive an honorary degree during the week of ceremonies held in Bristol. The award recognises her contribution to Mathematics Education in South Africa, including the development of mathematical institutions.
In her acceptance speech, Phakeng stated that the award did not only represent individual recognition but rather that, “This is a recognition of the many people who made me, those I represent… especially in my home continent of Africa, living in poverty and wondering if things will ever get better.”
She also provided some advice to university graduates during her speech, stating: “I learnt very early in my career that to be successful, it takes more than just a qualification… to succeed in the real world you must be willing to start at the bottom. Everyone wants to be an overnight success. But starting at the bottom makes you hungry and determined.”
After the ceremony, on July 23rd, Phakeng attended the launch of the University of Bristol and UCT collaborative PhD and scholarship programme, which will provide students the opportunity to be registered at and supervised by both universities.
See the Vice-Chancellor’s acceptance speech at the University of Bristol here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uH9DtPfF5Cs