Recipients of 2018 Vice-Chancellor’s Discretionary Merit Award honoured

Posted on March 26, 2018

The exceptional academic achievements of a select group of students, and their potential for future success, were celebrated at a High Tea hosted by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria, Prof Cheryl de la Rey, on 12 March 2018 in the Engineering I Exhibition Space on the University’s Hatfield Campus.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Discretionary Merit Award (VCDMA) was made available to a few individuals after careful consideration by a Selection Committee comprising members of the University Executive, Vice-Principals, Professors Norman Duncan and Anton Ströh, and Executive Director Prof Carolina Koornhof.

The Award was introduced two years ago to recognise and reward excellence based on Grade 12 results. In 2016, 13 students received this prestigious award and in 2017 the number of awards was increased to 46. These recipients are all on track to finish their degrees within the minimum time.

This year, 73 first-year students who had all achieved excellent average marks in their matric examinations and had been among the top performers in their respective provinces, received awards. Most of them had maintained an academic average of 90% or higher and their combined academic average was 91.7%. One of the candidates and the top performer in Gauteng in 2017 was Ms Jacqueline van Rensburg, a former learner at Oos-Moot High School, who had obtained an average mark of 97%. Although she had been accepted for MBChB studies by various universities, she chose to enrol at UP.

Prof De la Rey assured these students of the University’s support and the necessary assistance to enable them to continue being successful, well-balanced individuals who are above all committed to completing their studies in order to benefit from the life-long advantage that an excellent education provides. Over and above academic excellence, the University strongly endorses a holistic approach to education, which encourages students to participate in the very wide variety of sports, arts and culture, leadership and social activities on offer at UP through the various student structures, clubs and sports codes.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Discretionary Merit Award includes a scholarship to the amount of R130 000, payable over three years, which should assist the recipients to concentrate on their studies while also maintaining a balanced student life and learning how to flourish in a new and diverse community.

Representing the 2017 VCDA recipients at the VCDMA High Tea, Ms Raneezsha Jantjies, said:

‘I would like to start off with a quote from, which reads as follows: “Difficulties in your life don’t come to destroy you, but to help you realise your hidden potential.” This award has helped us all significantly and has inspired us to do better, to be better and strive to make others around us better, to aim for the finish line and, most importantly, to represent ourselves and the University of Pretoria once we have completed our degrees.

'On behalf of the recipients of the 2017 Vice-Chancellor’s Discretionary Merit Awards, I would like to thank Prof De la Rey and the Selection Committee for selecting us and for supporting us on this journey. To Mr Wallace Isaacs and staff, we really appreciate your support. We hope to make you proud.’

Joel Brown’s advice was: ‘Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself."'

Ms Elelwani Muelelwa, in her testimony on behalf of the 2018 awardees, said:

‘I feel greatly honoured and very grateful to have been selected as a recipient of a Vice-Chancellor’s Discretionary Merit Award. On behalf of all the awardees, I would like to express our thanks and appreciation to the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria and her Selection Committee. These awards serve as a great reminder to us to keep working hard and we hope that such awards will continue to instil hope in students who come to UP with their dreams. We vow to show appreciation by using this opportunity to build a strong foundation for our careers.

‘It will not be easy, but as Charles Kendall Adams once said: "No student ever attains eminent success by simply doing what is required of him, but it is the excellence of doing what is over and above the required that determines the greatness of ultimate distinction.”’ 


From 4 to 6 April 2018, the University of Pretoria, in collaboration with the international organisation, Common Purpose, will be hosting a wonderful leadership development opportunity. All VCDMA recipients are encouraged to participate as they have already shown their potential as leaders.

All the recipients of the Vice-Chancellor’s Discretionary Merit Award received certificates in recognition of their exceptional achievement.


- Author Department of University Relations

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