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UJ’s extended diploma students graduate cum laude

My heart bursts with pride when I hear academics saying that they want all students to have what the Academic Development Centre’s (ADC) Access Programmes give them. Cindy and Lerato are examples of how ADC Access Programmes unlock the potential of underprepared students and allow them to shine brightly.” This was the view of Ms Maxine Shandler, Head of Department of ADC Access Programmes, upon hearing that two of their extended diploma students graduated cum laude at UJ’s recent graduations.

On 29 October 2019, Ms Cindy Sithole and Ms Lerato Simetse graduated cum laude with their MTech in Engineering Metallurgy. Cindy and Lerato began their studies as extended diploma students through the ADC’s Access Programmes.

The ADC at UJ consists of various departments, one of which is ADC Access, which offers Extended Curriculum Programmes (degrees and diplomas) on behalf of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE), the College of Business and Economics (CBE), and the Faculty of Humanities (HUM). The primary purpose of the Extended Curriculum Programme is to proactively improve the academic performance of higher education students who, despite meeting the relevant minimum admission criteria, are at risk of failure, dropping out, or taking an excessively long time to complete their studies. Extended programmes incorporate substantial additional formal academic provision of a developmental nature, designed to enable such students to successfully complete a recognised university undergraduate qualification.

The majority of ADC Access students are those who are deemed academically underprepared for success in higher education, and ADC Access provides multifaceted support to facilitate the students’ transition into higher education. In addition to a range of academically focused interventions, students are allocated academic advisors and student mentors. ADC Access also organises a range of activities that create a motivational and supportive environment where they can explore and develop their potential.

“I honestly believe that ADC Access was the key to helping me realise my academic potential. Cathy Burton played a big role in making me realise that I can achieve anything that I set my mind to and this kept me motivated throughout my studies and encouraged me to strive towards completing my postgraduate studies”, states Ms Lerato Simetse, who is currently enrolled for a PhD in Engineering Metallurgy at UJ.

Lerato registered for the extended National Diploma in Engineering Metallurgy in 2012 which she completed in minimum time, and she was the ADC Access’ top-performing student in the first year of her studies. Lerato also won the prize for ‘Best Student in Engineering’ in 2016, and she graduated cum laude with an MTech in Engineering Metallurgy in 2019. Lerato completed the practical component of her MTech at Mines Saint Etienne in France funded as a collaborative study by her supervisor and the Centre for Nanoengineering and Tribocorrosion.

“For me, ADC Access is a home where everything began; You belong to ADC Access forever. I passed due to the strong academic support that we have in ADC Access”, states Ms Cindy Sithole, who has received the NRF Nuffic Scholarship to study towards her PhD at the University of Twente in the Netherlands in 2020.

Cindy became the head of a child-headed household of four at the age of ten when her mother died, and she raised her family with the assistance of church members. Cindy didn’t study for two years after Matric because of financial difficulties, but in 2011 she was accepted into the extended National Diploma in Engineering Metallurgy which she completed in minimum time.

Through focus and dedication, Cindy went on to win the ADC Access and UJ poetry competitions. With the academic self-belief and confidence gained in the first year of her extended diploma from ADC Access, Cindy completed a BTech in Operations Management and was accepted into a graduate programme. Her industry experience and engagement was the inspiration she needed to further her studies. In 2017, Cindy registered for an MTech in Engineering Metallurgy, now graduating cum laude in 2019. Cindy’s sister, Portia Xhosa, was also an extended diploma student and is currently teaching English in China.

The Division of Academic Development and Support (ADS) congratulates Cindy and Lerato on their incredible achievements – a real example of the value of ADC Access Programmes in preparing undergraduate students as they transition into higher education, the unwavering support offered from staff members in the ADC, as well as the willpower to never give up despite your circumstances.

About ADC

The Academic Development Centre (ADC) is situated within the Division of Academic Development and Support. The principal function of the ADC is to provide comprehensive, innovative and data-informed academic support and interventions that enable student success. In line with the drive towards leading and preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), the ADC is making intentional and thoughtful strides towards providing a wide variety of online student success artefacts and resources.

cindy sithole
Ms Cindy Sithole


lerato simetse
Ms Lerato Simetse
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