NWU student leaders lauded for academic achievements

Issued by North West University
North-West, May 9, 2019

Student leaders at institutions of higher learning are often perceived as lacking insofar as their academic prowess goes and hence, not completing their studies in time.

This was recently echoed by Minister of Higher Education and Training Naledi Pandor, when she made a clarion call to student leaders to complete their studies in the allotted period.

Fortunately, North-West University (NWU) is preparing future leaders to make their mark and give back. Not only have three former student leaders from the campus in Mahikeng obtained their qualifications in record time, but they have also climbed the academic ladder and obtained PhDs in their respective fields of study.

Dr Bismark Tyobeka, Professor Ilyayambwa Mwanawina and Dr Tsietsi Mmutle have all made their mark as former presidents of the Student Representative Council.

Dr Tyobeka held the title during the 1999/2000 term of office, while Professor Mwanawina held the reins in 2010/2011 and Dr Mmutle was president during 2012/2013.

"With scores of student leaders graduating from the NWU, it shows the university's commitment to inculcating academic excellence within the ranks of its student leadership," said Professor Dan Kgwadi, NWU's vice-chancellor.

More about these exceptional leaders

Dr Bismark Tyobeka

Prior to his appointment as the fifth chairperson of the NWU Council, Dr Tyobeka had been a member of the council since November 2014.

Recognised as one of the world's leading nuclear power experts, he has held the position of chief executive officer of the National Nuclear Regulator of South Africa (NNRSA) since 2013, and plays a major role in various initiatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Before being appointed to head the NNRSA, he worked as a nuclear engineer at the IAEA in the USA (from 2008). From 2002 to 2007, he worked at Penn State University in America as a senior reactor physicist, and from 2000 to 2002 he held the same position at Eskom.

Dr Tyobeka holds a master's degree and a PhD in nuclear engineering from Penn State University. He also has a master's degree in applied radiation science and technology from NWU; a master's degree in management, specialising in project management, from Colorado Technical University in the USA; and a bachelor's degree in physics and chemistry from NWU.

He was further honoured with an NWU Alumni Award of Excellence in 2013 for his personal and career achievements, in particular for his huge contribution to nuclear science across the world.

Professor Ilyayambwa Mwanawina

Professor Mwanawina is currently an associate professor of law at NWU, having completed his doctoral studies on regional integration and international law.

He has received various awards and recognitions, including the NWU Institutional Teaching Excellence Award and the Excellence in Research Merit Award.

Driven by his passion for an African renaissance, he continues to publish on topics related to regional integration, governance and human rights.

Currently, he serves as NWU's acting executive director for student life.

Dr Tsietsi Mmutle

Dr Mmutle completed his undergraduate degree in 2011, his BA Hons in 2012, and a master's degree in communication in 2013.

His academic prowess led to his receiving the Rector's Award in 2012, which allowed him the opportunity to pursue his master's fieldwork as an exchange student at Hanseo University in South Korea.

Shortly after returning, he joined the campus academia as a lecturer in 2014.

During his student years, he held various leadership positions, including residence committee public relations officer, deputy president and president of the campus's Student Council, as well as secretary-general of the then Institutional Representative Student Council.

He also holds a PhD in communication management from the University of Pretoria. His research interests include government communication, strategic communication, reputation management, and participatory and marketing communication.

True to the university's pay-off line, not only does it all start at NWU, but it seems the institution grooms future leaders directly from grassroots and humble beginnings.