Academic Proud of her Students who Overcame Great Odds to Obtain Distinctions
Two Masters Students of Dr Maheshvari Naidu, an academic in the College of Humanities, School of Social Sciences, have excelled and distinguished themselves.
Ms Nokwanda Mazibuko graduated having obtained her Masters in Anthropology cum laude and Mr Gabriel Darong graduated having obtained his Master’s degree in Anthropology Summa cum laude.
Both students were ecstatic with their results and agree that it came after ‘months of hard work, and long nights of sweat and tears’.
Their supervisor, Naidu said that both students committed to a regime of hard work and were determined to obtain the best pass possible in the shortest time possible. While Mazibuko completed her Masters in less than eighteen months, Darong took less than twelve months, even submitting his thesis a full month before the November deadline.
Naidu said that both students overcame immense personal and financial obstacles, determined to make their mark on a Discipline they were passionate about. Both have different unique skills as researchers and young Anthropologists in the making, she said.
‘Gabriel is from Nigeria and had to fund his own studies while here. Although he won a University merit scholarship and a bursary from the School, it was an ongoing financial see-saw that he found himself on. Even making the monthly rent was an incredible challenge. That coupled with the fact that he had not been home in several years, made it an emotionally demanding time.
‘Nokwanda lost her mum at the age of eight and was raised by her aunt. Nokwanda married early last year. Although she had the full support of her husband, she battled a series of health issues and intense personal problems with her family, making her Masters process an emotionally draining one.
‘Yet both students forged on with grit and tenacity,’ Naidu said.
Mazibuko shared that her research interest is around cultural constructions of identity and sexuality.
‘My Masters work focused on African masculinities, probing the izikhothani as an alternate form of African masculinity. My current work for my PhD, is on township women’s construction of sexuality’.
‘Dr Naidu has been an amazing supervisor throughout my Masters journey. There were times when we wouldn’t get along because I thought she wanted me to do the impossible. I thought, just because she is “intelligent” doesn’t mean that we all are. However as time went by I realised the power of her creativity and her ability to push me out of my comfort zone. I wouldn’t have achieved so much if she wasn’t hard on me and expected great things from me.’
Darong said that conceptualising the Masters study (in social construction of illness and health) was one of the hardest stages as it required a lot of mental gymnastics, “to and fro” search and re-search and determination.
‘In all of that movement, the constant help of my supervisor, who has become a stronghold in my academic and personal growth, was a great catalyst to the study. Her ability to keep communicating with me, physically, by mail or text messages, regarding my study and wellbeing, almost on a daily basis, kept me motivated and focused. This kind of support enabled me to complete and present my proposal and even my thesis in record time.’
‘Carrying out my fieldwork, although I was well received and my study supported in the hospital, the financial constraints of going to the field as often as needed would have been greatly hampered if not for the motivation and financial support of Dr Naidu who employed me as her research assistant.’
Naidu said that both students have already begun their doctoral work with her. Mazibuko’s doctoral focus is in gender, sexualities and feminist anthropology while Darong’s focus is in health and medical anthropology. ‘I expect great things from them,’ she said.