Graduation for disaster management students

Ten disaster management students from Stenden South Africa were conferred their degrees at a graduation ceremony at My Pond Hotel last Friday night.

In his address, Stenden executive dean Dr Wouter Hensens said the graduates were the fourth cohort of BBA disaster management students to graduate from Stenden.

“I believe your education at Stenden has put you a step ahead of the rest,” he said.

He said the Covid pandemic had shown the need for the skills the students had learned in disaster management, relief and intervention.

He said the university had received reports from alumni involved in such relief efforts over the past year, including in Ndlambe.

“I’m proud of you and know you will all do well.”

The keynote address was by Prof Ian Meiklejohn, head of department of geography at Rhodes University.

“You are entering a world where disasters are more likely to happen,” he told the graduates.

He said in southern Africa disasters are not visually dramatic like volcanoes, but are likely to be climate-related.

“What you do locally has a global impact.”

He described the meteorological analysis of veld fires in the Kruger Park, which had an impact as far as Australia and South America, and even had a reverberating impact in South Africa in terms of carbon output.

“Every cubic centimetre of Antarctic ice that melts changes our sea level,” he said, adding that it was not a short term cycle to recover such loss of ancient ice.

A hotter equator led to high pressure systems and floods would be more dramatic, he said.

“It’s an opportunity for you to do something about it. Prospects are exciting.”

Dr Des Pyle, dean of the school of disaster management, told the graduates that for some of them, their studies had been plain sailing, while for others it was not.

He related some of his own experiences, especially the struggle of being a PhD student while holding down a full-time job.

“My sincere wish for you is that find employment that provides joy and is meaningful.”

After the ceremony, graduates, faculty and guests were treated to a magnificent buffet.