“It is great to see the potential here. Every generation has the burden of making sense of their environment to understand the past and project the future. For the first time humanity is up against an environmental change of incredible proportions, unprecendented in human history. It will take knowledgeable people who are strong enough and brave enough to deal with hard questions and hard answers and the AIMS graduates are a wonderful example of this,” said Prof Brian O’Connell, AIMS South Africa Trustee and former Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Western Cape. He was speaking at the AIMS South Africa Graduation which took place at the Muizenberg Pavilion on Tuesday 23 June 2015, where 43 students (including 19 women) from 18 African countries received Master’s Degrees in Mathematical Sciences.
AIMS South Africa is part of a pan-African network of centres of excellence for postgraduate education, research and public engagement in the mathematical sciences. There are centres in South Africa, Sénégal, Ghana, Cameroon, and Tanzania. This graduation brings the total number of AIMS South Africa graduates to 579 and to over 900 across the network. As Prof. Barry Green, Director noted, “Our students will play a big role in contributing to the renewal and growth of the African continent.”
The students themselves had a lot to say about their experiences at AIMS, expressing their appreciation for quality of their education, the availability of tutors, the encouragement they received from lecturers and peers, and especially the exposure to people from a variety of cultures.
Ms Ephifania Geza, from Zimbabwe thanked AIMS for accepting her and making her part of the AIMS family, “We have been transformed for the betterment of Africa.” Ms Reine Marquise Yemata Mekondjou, from Cameroon added, “What we are doing will change Africa tomorrow.” Mr Adebayo Abayomi Adeleke, from Nigeria said “It was by no means an easy voyage but these struggles have made this moment remarkable. I feel privileged, because I don’t deserve this. We received an outstanding education all at no charge, the guidance of established teachers and all these resources based on our status as talented. But we in turn must use what AIMS has provided us to benefit those who do not get this chance.”
The graduation ceremony was officiated by Dr Max Price, Vice-Chancellor, University of Cape Town, Prof. Vivienne Lawack, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic, University of the Western Cape, along with, Prof. Eugene Cloete, Stellenbosch University’s Vice-Rector: Research and Innovation
A number of AIMS Scholarships were also presented at the AIMS Graduation Ceremony, for those students who had performed exceptionally in particular ways during their year of study.
- The Stephen Hawking Scholarship, named in honour of the world-renowned physicist (and author of A Brief History of Time) went to Mr Arnaud Andrianavalomahefa from Madagascar for his achievements which included a research project in Phenomenological AdS/CFT under the supervision of Dr Horowitz from the University of Cape Town.
- The Martin Rees Scholarship, named in honour of Lord Martin Rees, who is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s leading astronomers and cosmologists, was awarded to Ms Vahatra Fenosoa Rabonandrianandraina, from Madagascar. She receives this award for her achievements including a research project “Semigroups of Operators and the Fragmentation” under the supervision of Prof. Wilson Lamb of Strathclyde University.
- The Paul G. Allen Scholarship, endowed by the Microsoft co-founder and technology legend, was awarded to Mr Felicien Jordan Masakuna, from the DRC, his achievements which included a research project on “Machine Learning Methods for Shark Detection” under the supervision of Dr Simukai Utete of the AIMS Research Centre.
- And two Dr Victor Rothschild Scholarships, named for the Cambridge biologist, cricketer and third Baron Rothschild, went to:
- Ms Cecilia Muthoni Ndirangu, from Kenya, her achievements included a research project in the area of financial mathematics: “The Black-Litterman Framework for Portfolio Selection” under the supervision of Prof. Ronnie Becker of the AIMS Research Centre
- Mr Emmanuel Oluwatobiloba Neye, from Nigeria, his achievements included a research project in the area of mathematics: “Explore the relation between ideal and varieties” under the supervision of Dr Cornelia Naude from Stellenbosch University.
Front row: Mr Arnaud Andrianavalomahefa, Ms Vahatra Fenosoa Rabonandrianandraina, Prof. Jeff Sanders and Ms Cecilia Muthoni Ndirangu
Back row: Mr Emmanuel Oluwatobiloba Neye, Mr Felicien Jordan Masakuna and Prof. Barry Green