Local is Stellenbosch University Chancellor’s Medal winner

Somerset West resident Hugo Uys. PICTURE: STEFAN ELS

“Be kind to yourself.”

So says graduate Hugo Uys, who was awarded the coveted Chancellor’s Medal at the Stellenbosch University (SU) December 2023 graduation week.

According to SU, the medal was first instituted in 1961.

“Annually Stellenbosch University awards only one Chancellor’s Medal to a final-year student, or postgraduate student, who has not only excelled academically, but has also contributed to campus life in various ways and worked hard at developing co-curricular attributes,” said SU in a statement.

A graduate from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Mr Uys obtained his BA Hons in Philosophy cum laude, with a final degree aggregate of 90%. He is also currently a student in the Faculty of Law. A request to convert his LLM into a LLD has been submitted.

Reflecting on the award Mr Uys, from Somerset-West who matriculated at Parel-Vallei High School, said his recipe for success is simple – be kind to yourself.

“As students we are sometimes hard on ourselves. You deserve to show up for yourself with love and understanding,” he said.

Mr Uys also contributed his academic journey to his community of support.

“You are only as strong as your support system. I have incredible people surrounding me – my family, my academic supervisors, mentors, and friends. I could not have done this on my own. It takes a village.”

He said his mother, Heloise Breytenbach– who raised him as a single parent – is his biggest inspiration, while he was also inspired by the many academics at SU.

Mr Uys has had an extraordinary academic career: He obtained his LLB cum laude from Stellenbosch University in 2021. Since 2022, he has been enrolled at the Faculty of Law for a LLM – by research – degree. He has also been a student at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences since 2018.

After completing two years of undergraduate philosophy as an elective module for his four-year undergraduate LLB, he undertook to complete an additional undergraduate major in philosophy by registering for additional, non-degree modules in philosophy in 2020 and 2022.

He then obtained permission from Senate for simultaneous registration for the LLM in the Law Faculty and the BA Hons (Philosophy) in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, in 2023.

This request was approved based on his outstanding academic history and a demonstrated ability to balance curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular obligations.

Apart from his outstanding academic achievements, Mr Uys has also been involved in various campus programmes and initiatives.

He served as the Chief Justice of the Stellenbosch University Student Court, chaired the student-run Undergraduate Law Journal, and worked as a research assistant at the South African Research Chair in Property Law. He was also the course convenor for the Legal Writing Development Short Course.

He is the co-founder of the Iphepha for Pupils Non-Profit that works to re-distribute school supplies to primary and secondary learners whose access to schooling is threatened by a lack of necessary resources.

Eben Auret, Heloise Breytenbach’s partner; Heloise Breytenbach, Hugo Uys’ mother; Hugo Uys; Henko Uys, Hugo’s Uys’ brother; and Justice Edwin Cameron, Chancellor of Stellenbosch University. PICTURE: STEFAN ELS