The run of dedication ceremonies across South Africa is a wonderful way to end off a productive year in terms of CMF student groups. I had the privilege of attending all of the ceremonies this year which took place in seven of the eight medical schools with graduating students in 2017.
It was a great relief that despite strike action in some of the universities, all of them managed to finish the 2017 academic year. This was unlike 2016 where UCT had to delay their graduation until April 2017. So in fact I attended two UCT dedication ceremonies this year.
The first dedication ceremony was in April and involved the UCT graduates of 2016. It was a small group of students who attended and the atmosphere was entirely different from most ceremonies. It was wonderful to spend some time before the event sitting with the graduates as they went through the oath and adjusted it to make it their own. Their attitude toward the occasion was far more practical and less celebratory. They were making the pledge after completing their first few months of internship. I think having been exposed to working life the significance of the words they were speaking was felt so much more. It was also a wonderful opportunity for reunion and prayerful input into the challenges and joys they were facing in the work place.
After a long wait I joined WSU for their end of year function. As always this was a vibrant event with students of all phases of their studies attending. This year the call to be productive members of South African society came through strongly. The prayer and worship was deep and heart felt and the 2017 graduates were sent into the working world with a sense of urgency and responsibility to help lead in their work place and our country.
From Mthatha it was up the coast to UKZN. This was a very grand affair. I was able to get stuck in with the organizing committee as they created a very classy gala dinner. We were preparing the venue, setting tables and hanging balloons up to the last minute. But it was a wonderful success, I think the students (both new graduates and undergraduates) learnt a lot from all the speakers who shared advice from their experience both in medicine and life in general. Dr Tygie led a large group of graduates in the oath and we all enjoyed a typical Durban meal of curry.
University of Pretoria was the next to hold their ceremony. I arrived at the church shortly before the event in the pouring rain. This was a wonderful picture of the great sense of gratitude for God’s blessing and provision in these graduates’ lives. It was wonderful to meet up with all the mentors at my Alma Mata. The keynote speech was given by a local pastor who shared solid biblical principles to bear in mind in a caring profession when serving both as a “healer” and a “fisher of men”. I think this served as encouragement for the graduates but also a reminder for all of the professionals in attendance.
A little way up the road was SMU who had their event in a lecture hall on their campus. This event was run entirely by the graduates which leant to a feeling of genuine and heartfelt commitment to living out their faith in their careers. The mentors in Pretoria have meant so much to these students so it was very special to have them in attendance. It was this group of graduates who took the helm of the SMU student group when it was almost non-existent and have grown it into a vibrant ministry which is encouraging a large group at the moment. They will be missed by the SMU student group but are sure to make an impact in the various hospitals and towns where they are going to work.
Next was WITS. The setting of their ceremony was the museum in the medical school. In this environment one could only expect that these students will be taking their future careers seriously and plan to be anything other than mediocre. Their group is supported by both medical professionals and pastors all played a role in anointing and sending out the new graduates. A very exciting element was an encouraging speech given by one of the UCT 2016 graduates who is now doing her internship in Johannesburg.
From there it was down to Bloemfontein. The UFS ceremony is generally held at the home church of one of the graduates. So we went to a different church to last year. But the Bloemfontein CMF community love to pull together for this event with ex- students leading the worship and sharing testimonies and of course Hannes Steinberg coordinating the oath. The hall was packed with graduates and their family and friends and the excitement in the air was palpable.
Finally it was back to UCT for the 2017 graduates. There was an unusually large group of graduates taking the oath at this ceremony and it was wonderful to see extra seats being brought in to try and accommodate all their relatives and friends. Long standing CMF members gave two very meaningful messages and a few of the students and their family members shared poetry and testimonies. The prayer time at the end was very special with each family coming around to send off their new graduate.
What a privilege to be a part of each of these events especially after coming to know some of the graduates on my travels to the universities through the year and numerous WhatsApp conversations. I pray that as they start their internship that the values instilled through CMF and the commitments they made in their ceremony will see them becoming health professionals that stand out as shining witnesses to our Great and Merciful God.
Tamryn Baytopp, CMF Student Secretary