The class of 2007's crop of graduating students with disabilities is one the university can be proud of. Not one of the students with disabilities registered with us failed even one course during the year. Three were awarded their degrees with distinction, and several others achieved distinctions in one or more courses.
Chris Day was awarded his degree in Mechanical Engineering with distinction.
Samantha Richmond was awarded her Bachelor in Social Science Honours and Nomhle Sicwebu her Bachelor in Social Science. Both students were regular visually impaired users of the assistive technology computer lab.
Nomhle Sicwebu uses the Merlin Desktop Magnifier in the Student Computer Lab
A highlight from our 2007 volunteering year was the support given to Nothandathu (Nosix) Gara. Because of a severe mobility disability, Nosix needed assistance with finalising the editing and typing up of her MPhil in Disability Studies thesis. Having made the arduous trip from the Eastern Cape, Nosix arrived at the Disability Service more than a little anxious that progress could be made.
For a week in May, one of the Disability Service offices was transformed into a hub of activity, with mostly postgraduate level volunteers arriving one after the other to assist Nosix with scribing and editing her thesis. With the additional support of her supervisor and the Writing Centre, her thesis was almost ready for submission by the time she left for home and she was awarded her master's degree in Disability Studies in November 2007.
Iron will earns degree with distinction
When diving into a sandbank left promising student Tristan Görgens a quadriplegic, doctors predicted a long delay in his studies. But the iron willed then 22-year old from Constantia surprised his medical team by completing his Bachelor in Social Sciences degree at UCT with distinction. He was subsequently awarded a Mandela Rhodes Scholarship.
Tristan on his graduation
A chair to stand in
Thanks to one of our generous donors we were able to purchase a special hydraulic "standing" chair for Ronald Mothelisi, a medical student and wheelchair user. The chair enables him to "stand" up so that he is at the "normal" height to work at operating and dissecting tables.
Ronald is to our knowledge the first wheelchair user in South Africa to be admitted to a degree of medicine, although we understand that a few students who had been injured during their training had completed their degrees in the past.
Ronald graduated in December 2007. With electrical power having been restored to Jameson Hall within minutes to spare before it was his turn to be capped, Ronald was able to access the stage by means of the wheelchair lift, and was duly capped to tumultuous applause and a standing ovation.