Introducing the Youngest Graduand for the 2024 Autumn Graduation, 19-year-old Owami Ngqono

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Owami Ngqono, aged 19, is set to become the youngest graduand to be capped at the University of Fort Hare’s (UFH) 2024 Autumn Graduation when she collects her Bachelor of Agriculture in Economics degree next week.

Hailing from Butterworth in the Eastern Cape, Owami entered the gates of the UFH Alice Campus when she was 16, armed with three matric distinctions in Agricultural Science, Maths Literacy, and isiXhosa from Lamplough High School in Butterworth.

She started primary school at the age of five. According to her, she has always been described as the “youngest and brightest” throughout her schooling career by her peers and teachers – a fitting description for the graduand pursuing her honours degree.

Despite her tender age, Owami who turns 20 in June, is determined to push the boundaries of achievement, a willpower that she says was formed in her by her maternal grandparents who raised her.

“I grew up in a loving and nurturing home under my grandparents who taught me to seize every opportunity that comes my way, and I have been doing exactly that. The plan now is to pursue a master’s degree and hopefully, a doctoral degree.”

It was at Lamplough High that the seed to pursue a career in Agriculture was planted in her and nurtured by her high school teacher. “I developed a passion for the field of Agriculture and the science behind it, and fortunately I had a teacher who was willing to support and nurture that passion.”

Noting her keenness to pursue a career in agriculture, her teacher pointed her towards Fort Hare. “He advised me that it is the best institution for agricultural studies, and I must say, he was correct.”

Entering university, Owami said the transition from high school into tertiary was smooth sailing, “thanks to the friendliness of staff students and also a relative who was doing her final year when I started my journey year. Over the years, this place has always felt like home. During my time here, I have gained so much valuable knowledge that has empowered me for the industry.”

Reflecting on her journey, she expressed gratitude for the support she received from her lecturers, friends and family, including her mother who will also be graduating with her first degree from Walter Sisulu University around May. “My mother has been one of my greatest motivators. Even though she had to put her dream of becoming a qualified accountant on hold several times, she never gave up. Now we will both graduate with our first degrees, one month apart.”

The University of Fort Hare is proud to celebrate Owami's remarkable accomplishment and looks forward to witnessing the remarkable contributions she will undoubtedly make in the years to come.