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EC-born neurosurgeon encourages graduands to specialise

07 May 2015, 12:19

Eastern Cape-born neurosurgeon Dr Coceka Mfundisi inspired graduands to dream big in a whimsical address delivered at WSU’s afternoon graduation ceremony in Mthatha on Monday 4 May.

Mfundisi, born in the rural town of Engcobo, candidly chronicled the trials and tribulations she faced in pursuit of her dream of becoming only the second black female to do the seemingly impossible - graduate from the University of Pretoria’s College of Neurosurgery.

She is also only the fifth black woman in the country to qualify as a neurosurgeon.

“I remember there was a bet going that I’d only last six months before succumbing to the pressure and quitting neurosurgery. People told me to pursue a “softer” discipline because this field was very delicate and not suitable for women.”

“They didn’t know however that they’d missed the crucial moment to discourage me – my birth. I was not going to be neither intimidated nor disheartened - a neurosurgeon was what I was going to be, a dream I have since fulfilled” said Mfundisi.     

She encouraged the graduands to further their studies in pursuit of becoming specialists that will offer scientific-based solutions through specialised skills.

She underlined the critical need for specialists, citing high-profile cases of head injuries suffered by Grand Prix legend Michael Schumacher, Australian cricketer Phil Hughes, and SABC radio personality Saba Mbixane, who all succumbed to head injuries.

“Neurosurgery services need to grow, the demand for the service has grown. There are other incidences in other fields that need our students to aim to become specialists,” said Mfundisi.  

The ceremony saw 5 PhD and 14 Masters Degrees conferred upon graduands from the health sciences and natural sciences faculties. An overwhelming majority of these papers were premised on socio-economic and health issues that affect the context within which the University operates – largely rural areas of the Eastern Cape.

“This is testimony to the University’s endeavours to offer solutions to problems that continue to confront our communities through the increase of our research trajectory with the aims of producing graduands that possess the necessary specialised skills-set,” said WSU Acting Spokesperson Thando Cezula.


·         Honorary graduate Sizwe Nxasana becomes the 45th honorary doctorate since 1985

·         A total of 4 534 students will be graduating 

·         Of these, 2 675 are female, whilst 1 859 are male

·         The 3 programmes with the biggest graduation numbers are: NHC Accounting, LLB, and BEd (EMS)

·         Students graduating with Honours (76); Masters (35); PhDs (7)

·         102 students will be graduating Cum Laude

·         The University’s new, and 2nd ever Chancellor since the merger in 2005, Sheila M Sisulu, will cap the students 

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