Outstanding achievers - including late poet - celebrated at St Albans Cathedral

 19 February 2024 20 February 2024
19 February 2024

The first Motswana to ever complete a PhD in astrophysics, an award-winning midwife and the winner of the High Sheriff’s Community Award 2023 are among more than 4,500 new students graduating from the University of Hertfordshire during official ceremonies at St Albans Cathedral this week.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students, graduating from more than 165 courses across the University, will celebrate their achievements with loved ones at the ceremonies taking place from 19-23 February.

This includes Dr Kushatha Ntwaetsile from Tsamaya in Botswana, the first Motswana to ever complete a PhD in astrophysics. Despite facing huge challenges, including being a first-time mum in a new country, all the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the usual demands of a doctoral scholarship, Dr Ntwaetsile persevered to achieve her doctorate. She has since returned to Botswana help support the development of astronomy in the country through the launch of the Square Kilometre Array project (SKA), which is working towards building Botswana’s first ever observatory, as well as inspire the next generation of African astronomers.

“I want to be a pioneer in bringing astrophysics to Botswana, by being at the forefront of such a massive project like the SKA,” Ntwaetsile said. “I am hoping in a couple of years our team will be able to deliver the first radio observatory in Botswana.”

Other high achievers graduating this week include Maria Mirembe, an inspirational young midwife whose passion, commitment and dedication to the profession – particularly in the face of a number of challenges behind the scenes – were acknowledged when she was awarded the Inner Wheel Prize for midwifery. Maria said that now she has successfully graduated in midwifery, she will use the award prize money to get herself “settled into working life as a midwife.”

The High Sheriff’s Community Award 2023 winner - Anna Lampard - will also be attending the ceremonies to graduate from her LLM Bar Course, an internationally recognised master’s degree required to qualify as a barrister. Anna was allocated the prestigious award for her pro bono work supporting key community projects, including the Hertfordshire Law Clinic and the Shelter Court Runner Scheme.

She said: “I am extremely grateful to all those who made my time at Hertfordshire Law School such an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Studying at Herts enabled me to excel academically, gain a wealth of experience, develop a supportive network and give back to my community.

“I am very lucky to have studied alongside many outstanding individuals, particularly those in my Bar Course cohort; I have loved seeing all their achievements to date and cannot wait to see all their future successes.”

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire, Professor Quintin McKellar, said: “Graduation is the culmination of a great deal of hard work, determination and passion, and a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the many achievements of our students and staff. I want to congratulate each and every one of our ‘Class of 2023’ on their marvellous success for getting to this milestone moment, and for the immense contribution they have made to Herts.

“I hope everyone is extremely proud of themselves and leaves the wonderful St Albans Abbey with their heads held high, ready to take their next steps towards a prosperous and fulfilling future. I wish every one of our graduates every success.”

This week’s graduation will also see some outstanding individuals awarded their degrees posthumously. This includes Gboyega Odubanjo, a multi award-winning and much beloved poet, who was studying for his PhD in Creative Writing and working as a Visiting Lecturer at Herts when he sadly passed away in August 2023.

Professor McKellar added: “We are proud to also be able to recognise a number of our students posthumously and look forward to equally commemorating each of their achievements. This includes Gboyega Odubanjo, who was a gifted poet and shining light in the University of Hertfordshire academic community and beyond. Our thoughts continue to go out to all loved ones impacted by these tragic losses.”

The University recently celebrated fantastic feedback from this year’s graduating students in the National Student Survey (NSS), placing 1st among East of England universities, and 26th nationally according to the Times Higher Education’s overall positivity score. Herts also received excellent results in the 2023 Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES), placing second out of 101 universities in the UK and in the top five for every section of the survey.

For more information about the University of Hertfordshire, visit www.herts.ac.uk.


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