- Voloshni Annamallay became UKZN’s first deaf graduate after bagging her Honours Degree in Criminology and Forensic Studies
- Although she does admit it was challenging to adjust in the beginning, she used South African Sign Language as a means of communication
- The university, her parents and many South Africans lauded her academic achievement and referred to her as an inspiration for many
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Congratulations are in order for UKZN’s first-ever deaf graduate, Voloshni Annamallay, who was capped and hooded at the prestigious event held on 16 May 2022 at the UKZN Westville campus.
An emotional Annamallay admitted that she was quite nervous upon stepping onto the stage. She obtained an Honours Degree in Criminology and Forensic Studies – making her the first deaf person to acquire both undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications at UKZN using South African Sign Language as a means of communication.
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Breaking through tremendous barriers during her academic journey, Annamallay is a role model for all people with disabilities who dream of attaining a Higher Education qualification.
A passion to help seek justice for victims of crime in South Africa led Annamallay to enrol in criminology studies.
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“I have a vision for a brighter and safer country for all people and I will work towards making that vision a reality.”
She described her learning experience as overwhelming and daunting as it was a challenge to adjust at the beginning when it came to being in classes full of hearing individuals and also navigating the social aspect of being on campus.
“I am thankful to have made many friends and acquaintances from the Disability Unit and the University at large, proving that Deaf people can take up space and easily integrate with individuals from different walks of life. Communication may have been a barrier but the willingness of people to learn how to communicate with me was very comforting.”
UKZN’s Executive Director: Corporate Relations, Ms Normah Zondo, said the Institution was extremely proud of Annamallay and her highly commendable achievement.
“Annamallay has not only achieved highly for herself but also for UKZN and the deaf community as a whole. Her academic journey has also given the University critical experience in supporting future Deaf students.”
UKZN Disability Co-ordinator, Mr Nevil Balakrishna, who has worked closely with Annamallay since the start of her academic journey in 2016, praised her for being one of only a few Deaf young people to gain admission and complete studies at tertiary level in South Africa.
“Annamallay’s achievement is highly commendable. She has paved the way for other Deaf students who aspire towards Higher Education and given the Deaf community a voice that provides greater impact to the motto of the disability rights movement: ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’.”
Proud parents Popsy and Siven Annamallay, who attended the ceremony, said they stood up to cheer and applaud as loudly as possible.
“I couldn’t hold back my tears. We are so proud of our daughter,” said mother, Popsy.
Annamallay has applied to study further and is also looking to step into the working world.
“I am able. You are able. You can do it, nothing is stopping you from what you aspire to become or do, you must simply believe that you can and make and take the necessary steps to achieve your goals,” said Annamallay.
“Yes, I am deaf and faced many challenges during my studies but I made it through all the way from my first year of studies until now. I can do anything except hear!” she added.
South Africans also poured in congratulations for the young lady on UKZN's Facebook page:
Harry Haricharan replied:
“Heartiest congratulations Annamallay. You're such an inspiration and a trailblazer in so many ways. Best wishes.”
Bontle Lorato Rasebopye commented:
“Annamallay, Congratulations on your wonderful achievement! Keep passionate and persistent through the barriers!”
Patsy Pillay replied:
“Congrats and a beacon of hope for those to follow.”
Dennis Pather said:
“You have set such an inspiring example. Well done.”
Emotional story of perseverant UKZN graduate, 23, moves Durban businessman
In a separate story, Briefly News reported that South Africans were left in awe at the touching story of a young man who couldn’t hold back his tears upon collecting his hard-earned degree despite all the odds stacked against him.
UKZN graduate, Dumisani Ngobese, serves as proof of God’s perfect timing. Despite not being able to afford a suit for the prestigious occasion, Dumisani was conferred with a Bachelor of Arts degree at a ceremony held at UKZN’s Westville Campus on Friday.
This was the ceremony he was not going to miss.
“I could not afford to buy a suit but I just had to be there at graduation.”
Source: Briefly News