It’s graduation season and a range of celebrities donned the cap and gown to walk the stage in honour of their accolades.
During the first quarter of the year, it’s always a given that news feeds and timelines are filled with celebrations of academic achievements and excellence – not to mention the glamorous outfits worn to commemorate the special day.
In a country where the youth remain vulnerable with a steadily increasing unemployment rate of 46.5 percent in the first quarter of 2023, getting the opportunity to advance your skills at higher learning facilities is a blessing that few get the privilege of doing.
From young stars like House of Zwide’s Shalate Sekhabi obtaining her first degree to artistic legends like Usher claiming an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music, they show that there’s no limit to expanding your mind and fulfil your dream.
READ MORE | 7 celebs who have furthered their studies
Here’s a list of celebrity graduation celebrations that offer true inspiration:
1. Seipati ‘Twasa’ Seoke
The award-winning Lesedi FM radio host and former Jam Alley presenter has shown us that nothing is impossible.
Graduating from the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) with a Master of Business Administration is an outstanding achievement that few can claim, and she dedicated it all to her late father.
In a beautifully written and inspiring LinkedIn post, she writes, “My late parents are not here to see this, but I carried their blood and dreams as I walked across the stage. My father wanted an MBA, he dropped out of the programme the month I was involved in an almost fatal car accident in 2002. If he was here, I would tell him 'Papa, I made it. I got it done'.”
2. Nolwazi Ngubeni
From bursting onto the entertainment scene as Precious in the drama series A Place Called Home to taking over as TikTok’s music partnerships manager, the award-winning Scandal! actress is doing it all and more.
Currently, Nolwazi has just celebrated her latest qualification, a bachelor’s degree in marketing and communication from AAA School of Advertising.
Taking to her Instagram before sharing a series of glamorous graduation selfies and her ‘fit of the day, Nolwazi shares how much of a special moment her graduation was for her.
“Years of study have culminated into this. Four years ago, I decided to study a new degree and today, I get to celebrate. It’s a bit of an emotional day, I won’t lie. I will find the words to express my feelings later. Inhliziyo yami igcwele ukubonga (My heart is filled with gratitude).”
Few can deny the cultural impact Usher had on R&B going all the back to his iconic 2004 Confessions album.
On 13 May 2023, Usher proudly accepted an honorary doctorate degree from the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
In his acceptance speech, Usher shares his gratitude to the Berklee faculty and student body after their annual commencement concert paying tribute to the honourees the previous night, and the cultural influences that inspired him in his journey in music.
“My goal as an artist has always been to inspire people and make positive impact through my music. To make you feel something, and last night I felt proud. I felt proud of you, I felt proud of myself, I felt proud of the legacy that has been built and that we’re building together as artists.”
4. Vuyokazi Tshona
Bagging her third degree, the Imbewu actress joins the list after sealing the deal with her Master’s degree in agriculture from the University of the Free State.
The 30-year-old actress has had quite a multifaceted background and a knack for the arts alongside her twin sister Vuyelwa, forming the jazz group Amawele Square (A2) with fellow actors and twins Nokubonga and Nokwanda Khuzwayo.
From setting the stage alight as the demanding Buhle Bhengu on Imbewu to cultivating her green thumbs through her multiple agriculture degrees, the future is bright for Vuyokazi.
5. Tracee Ellis Ross
More than just the daughter of legendary soul singer Diana Ross, Tracee has forged her own path throughout her decades in Hollywood.
Launching her career as one of the iconic faces in the classic Black women-centred sitcom Girlfriends to founding her own natural hair care range PATTERN Beauty, it’s not too surprising to hear of Tracee’s next achievement.
Having been awarded an honorary doctorate from Spelman College in a star-studded affair on 21 May 2023, it’s inspiring to see the award-winning actress and producer honoured for her contributions to the upliftment of Black women and the world of entertainment.
6. Shalate Sekhabi
Academic excellence seems to run in Shalate’s blood, with the House of Zwide and The River star beaming with pride and donned in her father’s graduation gown for the graduation ceremony at Wits University on 22 April 2023.
“I’m wearing the same gown my dad wore when he graduated here 30 years ago with a BA in Dramatic Arts and here, I am with my BA in Film and Television,” she writes in an Instagram caption commemorating her achievement.
Shalate takes home bachelor’s and honour’s degrees in film and television and hopes to further use her qualifications to start her own production company.
READ MORE | Shalate Sekhabi's ode to her father during her graduation – ‘I want to create and tell my own stories’
7. DJ Cleo
The seasoned music producer and hitmaker can add Wits University graduate to his long list of accomplishments after an arduous journey faced with hardships from the Covid-19 and mental health struggles.
On 25 April 2023, DJ Cleo’s – whose full name is Tlou Cleopas Monyepao – perseverance was rewarded as he shared a video revealing his journey and motivations for completing his Bachelor of Arts degree.
“There were moments when I almost cried, feeling overwhelmed by assignments, workload, loss of income due to the pandemic, divorce, heartbreak, and many other things. I never gave up, giving up was not an option. Failing was not an option. If I can’t do it, why would I expect my kids to do it?”