The class of 2015

Dr Ronel Retief leads the academic procession into the Tygerberg Sports Hall

The annual oath-taking ceremony, which precedes the graduation ceremony of Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS), is a proud tradition and highlight on the calendar.

At this event, graduands of the FMHS commit themselves to maintain high ethical, moral and professional values during their careers as health professionals. “By taking this oath you declare your commitment to assuming the responsibilities and obligation of the health profession, to practice your craft ethically and honestly and to behave with integrity even in extreme circumstances," Prof Volmink, the Dean of the FMHS, said to graduands.

At the ceremony for Allied Health Sciences, 42 students in Occupational Therapy, 24 in Dietetics, 62 in Physiotherapy and 27 in Speech-Language and Hearing Therapy took the oath. Prof Sherrilene Classen, the Director of the School of Occupational Therapy of the University of Western Ontario and extraordinary professor at SU, delivered the keynote speech.

She encouraged graduands to take four core ingredients with them on their career paths, namely awareness, approachability, adaptability and authenticity. “Use these four ingredients to overcome challenges and become the best version of the greatest vision that you have ever held of who you are,” she said.

The group of 201MB,ChB students is the largest group of medical students in the history of the FMHS. Dr Maria Phalime, award-winning author of the book “Post Mortem – The Doctor Who Walked Away”, based her message on her own life story.

“Life in a clinical setting is difficulty, but you [the graduands] must remember you are human. Strive towards achieving the best for yourselves and your patients,” she said. Phalime decided to leave the clinical environment when she realised that she has lost her passion. “There are many ways to serve and I can continue to contribute, using my life story as a platform,” she said. She encouraged graduands to always serve their patients with compassion and passion and to carry the message of the oath in their hearts.


Koot Kotze won the Faculty Medal for the Best Undergraduate Student of the FMHS and Helene-Mari van der Westhuizen received the Dean’s Award for Leadership. These two achievers are engaged to be married. Apart from many achievements in leadership, culture and academics, they were actively involved in awareness campaigns such as TB Proof and Safe Working Hours for Young Doctors.

Elmi Barnard and Jessica Taylor passed all 11 disciplines of the final year of the MB,ChB degree with distinction. This is the first time in the history of the Faculty that two students managed this achievement simultaneously in one year. Previously, only two students - one at a time - could manage this. Elmi was awarded the Faculty Medal for the Best Final-year Student in Medicine (calculated over the duration of the program).

The year of twins

This year, three sets of twins qualified as doctors.

Wandile and Wanele Ganya, two of a family of six siblings from Khayelitsha, had to overcome many obstacles to complete their studies successfully.

The family of the Neethling twins, Manya and Gys, have a close ties with the FMHS. Their older brother and sister, also twins, as well as their parents, studied on the Tygerberg Campus.

Anika and Janika Kemp are proud first generation Maties.

Postragradute achievements

Two new postgraduate qualifications were awarded for the first time this year and both candidates passed with distinction. Clara Kotze obtained the degree MSc in Anatomy and Dr Sajith Sebastian qualifies for MPhil in Clinical Nephrology.

Three staff members are among the 15 candidates who will be receiving their PhD-degrees at the Doctoral Graduation Ceremony on Thursday. They are Ms Lisanne du Plessis of the Division of Human Nutrition, Dr Zelra Malan of the Division of Family Medicine and Primary Care and Dr Regan Solomons of the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health. Solomons is the first candidate to receive the joint degree from Stellenbosch University and the Vrije University in the Netherlands.

A further 406 postgraduate qualifications were awarded on Tuesday, 8 December at the graduation ceremony of the FMHS.

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Mandi Barnard