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The excited Xolisa Ndovela, 31, is all smiles as she will be graduating Cum Laude for her Master’s degree in Applied Arts Interior Design, at the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Virtual Autumn Graduation 2021 ceremony, on Thursday, 27 May 2021. 

Ndovela, said that support systems are necessary for achieving great things in life as she is a testament to that. 

“Without the help and support of everyone who was a part of my Master’s journey, I would not have made it over the finish line. I know society is poised to people being successful alone, but communal wins have a more significant impact on all involved. So, the Cum Laude is my thank you to them, that their efforts were not in vain. The result truly humbles me, I wasn’t entirely sure if I would make it, so to pass with Cum Laude is incredible,” she said happily. 

Besides her exhilaration on hearing her results, she said her mother always knew she would achieve great results. Ndovela said her mother told her that she didn’t expect anything different, and any other outcome would have been inconsistent with whom she knows her to be. She said those words were super encouraging during the hard times. 

“My father and the rest of my family and community were ecstatic. They all used the dancing woman emoji in their messages. They were very happy for me,” she said. 

She shared more on her research topic: Social Innovation: Understanding Selected Durban-Based Interior Designers’ Perceptions of Socially Responsible Interior Design.

Ndovela indicated that her research sought to find out through the views of interior design practitioners how social innovation might be integrated into interior design for socially responsible design. 

 She relayed that the aim was to establish whether interior design practitioners saw social innovation as a tool for more socially responsible design and whether they have engaged in social innovation and socially responsible design in their practice. 

“Externally there are too many challenges to mention. They were hectic, to say the least. It was all emotionally charged and taxing from multiple deaths in the family during COVID-19 and a missing cousin. Then I had my health challenges; my heart was skipping beats, so I had many challenges. That is why I appreciate my supervisors for sticking it out with me till the very end,” she said. 

She stressed also that the challenging part was studying full-time, and not having an income and putting her life on hold for the duration of the studies was tough. 

“Having to go back to being supported by family members when you used to help them was hard. I think looking after an adult is not like looking after a child. So, when I did get the DUT internal master’s scholarship, I had some relief and was able to pay some bills,” she said. 

However, she added that there were some fun times, especially meeting up with other students at the Postgraduate lab at DUT’s City campus. 

“We had many days of brainstorming, conversations and dreaming of the future. When we met someone, they would share their experiences and find that they were not alone, and also someone who was about to go through, for example, proposal hand in would give them pointers and share our experience, so they knew what to expect,” she said. 

Ndovela mentioned that it is vital for students to have research that speaks to the ENVISION2030. She added that she thinks it is essential for relevance in global discourses in the various academic fields.   

“Research produced in vacuums does not have the potential for impact locally and globally. So, students have to generate research that aligns with ENVISION 2030 not only to make research that is relevant but the research that doesn’t end up in libraries. The gap between theory and practice is bridged, and research results from practice, and, practice a result of research,” she said.

Pictured: Xolisa Ndovela 

Waheeda Peters 

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