Christine, Bolatito, Hannah, Kayla, Nyiko & Tshegofatso graduate cum laude for their undergraduate degrees! Halala! We salute you as the Department of Strategic Communication!
Below are some reflections (and social media handles) from our department’s very own top students!
Graduation signifies many things. It represents growth, hard work and transformation. Initially, my academic journey was undefined and unstable, but through discipline and support from my lecturers, I learned how to blaze a trail throughout my time in the lecture hall and beyond. For me, this moment is a reward for all those late nights spent in the library and the tears shed to get to this point. My hard work was not in vain as today I get to say that I am a University of Johannesburg Public Relations Graduate with distinction. Being one of only two graduates to receive a cum laude in my class is definitely my greatest academic achievement.
LinkedIn: Christine Putsoane
The road to success may not be a bed of roses but it is possible to reach your destination. Entering university as a naïve young girl, I had to learn to relate with others older than I was. I was even nicknamed “lastborn”, by my classmates. Being a devoted Christian, I relied on GOD and also purposed in my heart to work hard. I knew I was not the best in high school, I was not the most brilliant or intelligent student but I could change that story. Over these few years, I have learnt that 3 things are major keys to success: resilience, hard-work and relationships. In my heart, I did not want my family’s financial situation to write my story; rather than playing the victim I decided I will be a victor. I resolved in my mind that I will rise above that situation. I came up with a strategy, after each day of class, I never slept until I scanned through the work done in class for that day. This helped me remember the concepts. Then, my weekends were spent studying and gaining knowledge. I would set questions for myself and this gradually prepared me for all my tests and exams. To the glory of God, I graduated my course with distinction (in 26 modules) and I can boldly say “it pays to work hard and academic excellence is possible.
LinkedIn: Agbebi Bolatito
Facebook: Bola Omoarugboojo
The journey through my undergraduate degree was unique and unforgettable. I chose to study Strategic Communication in Corporate Communication because of the opportunity of this degree to open doors to various career paths. In addition to the opportunity to create strategies to bring about some form of change. Navigating through a global pandemic brought about moments of doubt, uncertainty, and low days from a mental health perspective. However, it also created an increased sense of motivation to push through and do the best I could, with gratitude for who I was and what I was lucky to have in those trying times. I am so proud of what I have achieved and the person I am becoming, and I am eager to see what lies just over the horizon of my next step in life.
LinkedIn: Kayla Hovelmeier
Hannah Jean Newbold
I didn’t consider myself an academic through my secondary education, sports was always my main focus. But I’m the kind of person that once I set my eyes on a goal, I am determined to achieve it. I chose a BA in Strategic Corporate Communication because it seemed to be a nice balance between business and creativity, two of my passions. When I started my undergraduate degree in 2019, I had no idea how I was going to complete it. With financial difficulties, I depended on multiple jobs to pay off my student fees. Time management became my main concern. I was very blessed towards the beginning of my second-year to receive a partial bursary from ByDesign Communications, and to start working part-time for them to gain some industry experience. This experience has grown into a full-time position that I hold today. Although the industry experience has definitely helped me think of my academic life in more practical ways, it has been very challenging trying to balance both, especially now as I am working to complete my full-time Honours degree in Strategic Communication alongside a demanding full-time industry job. Making and maintaining good working relationships with my academic colleagues has been the only reason I have come this far. If I were to give one word of advice to students entering this degree, it is to pay attention to who asks good questions in class and watch how your classmates work in groups. Find those who work hard and match their work ethic. Consistent daily effort is so important if you want to do well in this challenging course. I started my degree thinking there is no way I will study past undergraduate. Today, I hold an undergraduate degree cum laude, and I am working to achieve my Honours. Next year, we move to Masters and I will make further decisions from there. There is power in interdependence and goal setting. We all have power to manifest and work for the future we want.
Facebook: Hannah Eppel (https://www.facebook.com/hannah.eppel/)
Instagram: @hannaheppel (https://www.instagram.com/hannaheppel/)
Twitter: @hannaheppel (https://twitter.com/hannaheppel)
The past three years have been the most interesting part of my academic career. I have adapted to both school and life changes. These three years have taught me two things: It all comes down to you and a support system matters. I have enjoyed learning from the great academic giants of the Strategic Communication Department. Their teachings are applicable in not just the communications industry but also in general life events because I have learnt to be present – to be in the moment. As I progress through my honour’s year, I only have two goals in mind; to keep raising the bar higher and never settling for the bare minimum.
Tshegofatso Sarah Mashao
My path to earning my degree was a rollercoaster, but I would not have had it any other way. When I was admitted in 2019, there was a problem with the degrees I had originally applied for: Politics and International Relations and Strategic Marketing Communications – they did not have room for me, but there was space in Strategic Communications in Corporate Communications. I subsequently chose to be placed in that course. Although, I was initially apprehensive because I had no clue what Strategic Communications was. I had to do some research and read up on it, and even after doing so, I was still not sure what the degree was about, but I was intrigued about the various job opportunities it provided.
I was anxious about my first class because I was afraid they would ask me why I picked the degree and I would be stumped. My lecturer at the time, on the other hand, eased us into the degree by simply explaining what Strategic Communication is, what aspects it consists of, and the procedures it follows. We had to get up and identify ourselves to the rest of the class, and I used that time to determine who I wanted to befriend. I look back and realise how wonderful that moment was because I never imagined I would still be friends and have such a close relationship with the same individuals now.
I had financial issues in my first year (2019), and as a result, I almost dropped out. I began writing letters to various firms requesting financial aid, and thankfully, one corporation answered and offered to pay my overdue fees. Valumax then awarded me with a bursary for my second and third years. I realised that I was destined to graduate, but I had no idea that I would be one of four people in my class to graduate with honours. I was never the sort of student who was disappointed when I did not receive a distinction; when I did, it was fantastic, but when I did not, it was okay. God showed me that I have great potential. My potential was unlocked and influenced by the type of company I kept, two of my friends that I met in first year were part of the four people that graduated cum Laude. And the rest of my friends all graduated in record time.
When Covid-19 struck and we were placed under lockdown, I found it difficult to move from contact classes to online learning since I did not feel I could study purely online. I became so frustrated with adjusting to the ‘new normal’ that I performed poorly in a module I enjoyed, which bothered me since I knew I could do better. I beat myself up for a while before consulting with a few friends and family, who encouraged me to push harder, which I did, and everything improved. When I made the Dean’s List in 2020, it seemed like God was validating and encouraging me to keep going. My grades improved, and with the help I received, I flourished throughout the lockdown.
I was on the Dean’s List twice and a member of the UJenius club. These were already impressive accomplishments, but graduating from Cum Laude was the cherry on top. Surprisingly, I was the only black female to graduate with distinction. This is a moment of pride for me, my friends, and family, especially because I am the first graduate in my immediate family.
Edited by Seriane Morapeli