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On Monday night, Farah Sader graduated with a BA Honours in Media and Cultural Studies after overcoming a long battle with tuberculosis. Her Honours research, entitled “Constructing a South African Identity: A textual analysis of Die Antwoord’s music video Fatty Boom Boom,” aimed to explore a form of identity in post-apartheid South Africa; but her success came on the back of years of fearless determination and struggle.
Originally, Sader began her studies as a Fine Arts student in 2009, but in early 2010 was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis, and was forced to deregister from her Fine Arts degree. She told us that her “TB recurred 6 times; basically I had it for two and a half years”.
“I was on the highest dose of medication and was often too ill to attend varsity, especially having to be in and out of hospital and undergoing numerous surgical procedures”.
“Eventually my doctors gave up and told me it was either going to kill me or they would have to remove my diseased lung”.
Miraculously however, Fader began to respond to her medication and did not need to have her lung removed. Six months later, she was TB free.
“All the while I continued to study, with just the bare minimum of two modules a semester,” Sader added.
Sader commended her peers, tutor and lecturers for her motivation “I owe my entire career to the support of my peers, Mr Shaylan Janneker, Ms Desirey Viney, Ms Sandra Pitcher and Dr Nicola Jones, who supported and encouraged me throughout the times I struggled.”
Asked about her future, Sader said that intends pursuing something “in field of graphic design and public relations, as well as to complete a Post Graduate Certificate in Education, as I would like to teach at a later stage in my life.”
* We’d like to thank Merusha Naidoo for her work in writing this story.
On Monday 14 April, the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s College of Humanities, Pietermaritzburg, held their graduation ceremony at the Royal Agricultural Showgrounds. The Department of Media and Cultural Studies was well represented with two Master’s, seven Honours and 54 Bachelor degrees awarded to their students. However, the Department can also boast as having the most students in the College graduate with distinctions.
Ms Sarah Dawson was the only MA graduate in the School of Arts to qualify cum laude for her dissertation entitled Capturing ghosts and making them speak: Genre and the Asian horror film remake, and whose examiners described “the experience of writing (and reading) this dissertation […] an intriguing memory in an ongoing game that, although playful, also never ceases to be serious”.
In addition, Ms Tracy Webb was the only student to graduate summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Social Science in Pietermaritzburg, who, along with other students from Media and Cultural Studies, made up 66% of the distinctions in the School of Social Science Bachelor’s degree programme. In the School of Arts, four out of the seven distinctions awarded for Bachelor Degrees were awarded to Media and Cultural Studies students.
When asked why students in the Department were successful, Ms Mellisa Muchena, who graduated cum laude with her Bachelor of Social Science degree, said that Media is a difficult subject, so it pushes you to do well and that overflows into your other subjects as well.
Lecturer in the Department, Ms Sandra Pitcher, said that these results were just reward for students, but more importantly, demonstrated the dedication of a small department to see their students succeed and compete with other larger departments around the country.
This success has translated into large postgraduate numbers, with more than 38% of the Department’s graduates returning to do Honours in 2014.