‘Knowing that someone depends on you to succeed academically actually encourages you to do better. This dependence also encourages you (as a mentor) to set a good example by maintaining well-balanced university and personal lives’, so said Ms Aphiwe Ngcobo, College of Health Sciences (CHS) Peer Wellness Mentor at the School of Nursing and Public Health.

Ngcobo was speaking at UKZN’s CHS Mentoring Certification Ceremony hosted by Student Support Services and aimed at acknowledging the good work done by the College’s Peer Wellness Mentors (PWMs) and Academic Mentors (AMs). The programme is unique to CHS and is supported by Student Counsellors and Academic Development Officers in collaboration with the CHS Teaching and Learning Office.

A total of 37 PWMs and 40AMs were acknowledged for their contribution to the success of the programme and the wellbeing of the mentees.

The Mentoring Programme is implemented across the College, including the Decentralised Training Platforms. The mentor’s role is to support students in the transition from high school to first-year university and support them through to their final years of study.

Student Counsellor Mrs Wulganithi Thaver said the ceremony was a culmination of a dedicated and structured plan of intervention where crucial and additional support were offered to the College’s first year students to ensure their smooth transition.

‘Often it is the non-academic challenges that prevent our students from progressing in their study programme and the Mentorship programme is geared to target exactly that,’ said Thaver.

‘In addition, we know that the academic environment and context is a very new experience and before our first years succumb to the challenges, we proactively offer the strategies of academic support,’ she added.

CHS Director of Professional Services, Professor Fanie Botha expressed his sincere appreciation to the mentors for their valuable participation in the programme: ‘Thank you for your time. On behalf of the College I salute you for your leadership qualities and thank you for guiding your fellow students. There are students who will remain forever grateful to you.’

Dean of the School of Nursing and Public Health Professor Mosa Moshabela encouraged the mentors and mentees to never compromise on academic excellence, ‘Always maintain high academic standards,’ said Moshabelka, who emphasised the need to help and support academics in the College be more emotionally intelligent and collegial.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini