UWC students celebrated at summer graduation

Olivia Joseph and Dyllan Joseph pose in front of the David Hlongwane sculpture, The Beginning and the End, which depicts a female domestic worker and her graduate son side-by-side.

Dyllan Joseph, of Delft, was one of 183 students who graduated with a post-graduate certificate in education from the University of the Western Cape this week.

What makes Mr Joseph’s graduation even more special is that his mother, Olivia Joseph, fondly known at UWC as Auntie Livvy, is one of the university’s much-loved support service cleaning staff members.

Ms Joseph has 15 years of service at the university and has been able to see her son graduate with a BA degree in education and now a post-graduate certificate in education.

He has also been inducted into the Golden Key International Honour Society.

During his studies, the graduate worked part-time in retail. He can benefit from a full rebate which UWC offers to support staff, including his mother.

“I’ve always dreamt of being a teacher, and I didn’t want to stop with the BA degree. I wanted to continue because this is my purpose in life. I didn’t know at the beginning that there was a rebate, but I wanted to study so I was determined to continue,” Mr Joseph said.

He completed his practical training at schools in Delft and says having his mother by his side at home and at campus was a privilege.

Ms Joseph says she is overjoyed with her son’s achievements.

“I want the best for him and tried my best to make sure that he succeeds,” she said. “He is the baby, and he finished school and proved that he wanted to study. When I first saw him on campus, I was very proud.”

Also graduating this week was Arian Filies. Mr Filies, a social work graduate, established a feeding programme called Kuils River A-maize-ing Meals (KRAM), which provides maize meal and sugar to creches in Kalkfontein monthly.

Mr Filies is the son of Gerard Filies and Sylnita Swartz-Filies, known as the PhD-couple. The couple, who are both occupational therapists, made history at UWC in 2018 for being the first married couple to receive their PhD degrees together.

The 23-year-old graduate says social work was a natural choice for him.

Mr Filies completed his internship with Badisa in Kuils River where he managed to formalise his project, KRAM which he and his sister, Gemma Filies, started during the Covid-19 pandemic in response to a need they saw in the community.

He says the time spent at Badisa was an eye-opener as he saw the struggle and lack of resources first-hand.

“It was good to see how the little I felt I was doing, was making a significant impact. I appreciated the opportunity to engage with the community and see dire situations somehow alleviated based on their joint efforts.

“I want to encourage the community to get involved; even if they feel their contribution would be too small to make a difference. It always does,” he said. 

From left: Gerard Filies, Arian Filies, and Sylnita Swartz-Filies. Picture: Harriet Box.