The keynote speaker at the Wits Welcome Day shared his experiences of failure and success as a Witsie, and encouraged new students that, though there may be obstacles, they should persevere.

When Professor Bavesh Kana was not accepted to study medicine at Wits, and was disappointed that he couldn’t follow his childhood dreams of being a doctor, he “had two choices: either crumble up or adapt my thinking”.

This was the main lesson he shared with first-year students at the Welcome Day. Prof Kana, who heads the Centre of Excellence in Biomedical TB Research at Wits, co-hosted by the South African Department of Science & Innovation and the National Research Foundation, had to settle on pursuing a degree in science.

The professor urged the first-years to put an effort in all that they do, even if it wasn’t their initial plan or path.

“When life plays a tune, you get up and dance, rather than sit on the sidelines. You can’t see the end of all things and what might seem like a disappointment today, may indeed be a blessing. You’ll be surprised where life takes you if you simply dedicate yourself to your degrees,” said Prof Kana.

He reassured the new Witsies that, “If this year doesn’t go as planned, if you fail, those events do not define you; you can change things. If you feel overwhelmed, reach out and ask for help.”

Prof Kana also had some parting words for the parents. “Take a good look at your children today. They are now at Wits. We will push them, test them, stretch their thinking and encourage them to grow in a way that you and them have not ever experienced and after they have been stretched they will not fit back into the mold that you see today. They will be forever changed.”

FEATURED IMAGE: Professor Bavesh Kana encourages first-year students at the Welcome Day 2020 to rise above any failures.  Photo: Tumelo Modiba