High Tea for recipients of the Vice-Chancellor’s Discretionary Merit Award 2024
26 May 2024
A very select group of students attended a High Tea, hosted by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria, Prof Cheryl de la Rey, on Friday, 19 May 2024. This very special occasion was held to acknowledge and celebrate the academic merit and achievement of 46 registered UP students. These students were selected to receive the Vice-Chancellor’s Discretionary Merit Award (VCDMA), which is made available to only a few individuals based on excellent Grade 12 results after careful consideration by the VCDMA Committee consisting of Vice-Principals, Proff Norman Duncan and Anton Ströh, and Executive Director, Prof Carolina Koornhof.
The Vice-Chancellor’s Discretionary Merit Award was introduced a year ago and all 13 of the 2024 recipients are still studying at the University of Pretoria. This year, the number of awards was increased to 46 new first-year students. All VCDMA awardees achieved an excellent academic average for their matric examinations and were among the top performers in their province. Most of these students maintained an academic average of 90% or higher, with numerous distinctions – up to ten in one instance. Among them are, for example, the two top performers in Gauteng, Marlé Grabe and Rhoda Hartzer, and Karl Hellberg from Vryheid High School, who was placed third overall in KwaZulu-Natal. Thembinkosi Manyeruke of Tsakane Secondary School obtained 100% in three subjects, ie Mathematics, Physical Science and Life Sciences. Also among this year’s award recipients is one of the youngest ever first-year students at UP. At only 14 years of age, when most teenagers are still at high school, Hjalmar Rall from the Western Cape is pursuing his dreams to become a scientist at UP in the company of 18-year-old classmates.
In some instances, in spite of having to overcome hardships and challenging circumstances, students persevered and succeeded far beyond expectation.
Prof De la Rey encouraged the students to succeed – not only in graduating, but also to complete their degree programme in the shortest possible time. Successful transition from school to university is a major challenge and this is true for the exceptional academic performers too, as the first year especially, can be filled with obstacles and hurdles. Students are encouraged to make full use of student support on campus.
At the same time it remains important to maintain a balance between academic, sport and social activities. Over and above academic excellence, the University strongly endorses a holistic approach to education, which encourages students to participate fully in the wide variety of sports, arts and culture, leadership and social activities on offer at UP through the various student structures, clubs and sports codes.
The Vice-Chancellor’s Discretionary Merit Award, which includes a scholarship to the amount of R130 000 over three years, should assist these students to concentrate on their studies but also to maintain a balanced student life and learn how to flourish in a new and diverse community.
– Author JuniorTukkie
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Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria, Prof Cheryl de la Rey, with the select group of students who attended the High Tea