On Friday last week, the MECS department said its final goodbyes to this year’s Honours class. Hosted by Academic Leader Dr Nicola Jones, the farewell event paid tribute to the hard work done by both students and their supervisors throughout the year.
The evening began with an award presentation for the top achievers of the year .
Warwick Jones received “The Writer’s Award” for his excellent short story Sometimes I Run and travel piece, Toward Pondoland, while Mellisa Muchena was awarded for her outstanding research presentation.
In addition, the hard work of Merusha Naidoo was recognised, winning her the “Most Improved Student” for 2014 and Claire Keyworth won the “Best Corporate Portfolio”, which also helped her get a job as the new marketing assistant at St Charles College.
However, the evening was not just about rewarding academic excellence as lecturers recapped some of the moments that will always remind them of 2014. Tawanda Kahlari was presented with an alarm clock after requesting to write his final exam standing up, so he didn’t fall asleep, and Farah Sader was given ‘a happy pill box’ filled with Rescue tablets after the class voted her the most likely to panic in every situation.
Lecturer Sandra Pitcher, playing MC, thanked the class for everything that they had done during the year, stating that their sense of humour and personalities had been a “rays of sunshine” throughout a very challenging year.
When asked about the year, Tegan Mitchell said she loved the fact that “everyone was similar … which helped the class form quite a tight knit little group”. She added that Honours has helped her grow as a person and that the practical nature of the courses have prepared her for the working world.
Sine Ngubane remarked that she values being “able to learn from such a knowledgeable group of lecturers and that their dedication to their students has been awesome”.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better year,” she said with a smile.
On Thursday 3 April, the Media & Cultural Studies Honours Journalism class were treated to a guest-seminar by one of South Africa’s leading online journalists, Michelle Atagana. Atagana, who in 2012, was voted as one of the Mail & Guardian’s top 200 South Africans under-35 to watch, is the managing editor for South Africa’s largest technology-driven news site Memeburn.com.
Now at 27, Atagana has also helped launch the gaming news site Gearburn.com, and a news site for start-up companies Ventureburn.com. She also appears regularly on numerous television shows and at global technology conferences as an industry expert.
As an alumnus of UKZN, who has returned to complete her PhD on the ‘twitterisation’ of news, under the Media Department’s head of journalism and Cluster Leader for the School of Arts, Dr Nicola Jones, Atagana took time out of her busy schedule to ‘give back’ to the department that helped launch her career.
Students were given an opportunity to understand how their degrees would translate into industry, and more importantly, how vital social media has become in the success of any business. Atagana spoke at length about one of South Africa’s leading retailers and how their successful management of social media has helped build a stronger community with their customers.
After the seminar, students were excited and re-invigorated for the year ahead as they realised that a degree in Media & Cultural Studies opened up various possibilities for them in the business world; especially due the practical skills taught in Honours in relation to social media and web design. The Media Department hopes that this will not be Atagana’s last seminar, and that once she has begun working on her PhD will be able to return and educate students on social media and journalism further.