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South African First Lady Visits Shaw; Receives Honorary Degree

May 12, 2014 – South African First Lady Madame Gloria Bongi Ngema Zuma was greeted by a group of Shaw University staff and international students as she arrived in Raleigh, NC on May 8th. During her time in Raleigh, Madame Zuma visited a diabetes center, addressed the Shaw University Board of Trustees, delivered the University’s commencement address and received an honorary doctorate.

While at the Duke Raleigh Hospital Lifestyle and Disease Management Center, Madame Zuma met with Dr. Stephen Robinson, Center Director Andrea Layton and Registered Nurse Mary Beth Gallo to discuss how the Center assists patients with diabetes management by providing support, nutritional information and exercise programs. Madame Zuma shared with the group the work of the Bongi Ngema-Zuma Foundation, and organization she founded in 2010, and what the organization has done to assist South Africans living with diabetes. The Foundation has taken a leading role in increasing awareness of the condition among South Africans and providing educational campaigns on how to manage diabetes with proper exercise and eating habits.

During her meeting with the Shaw University Board of Trustees, Madame Zuma brought greetings on behalf of the Republic of South Africa and expressed a desire to partner with universities such as Shaw to increase healthcare knowledge in South Africa. At the conclusion of her remarks, Madame Zuma presented African artwork as a gift to the University. Following the trustees meeting, Madame gave an interview with the University’s WSHA-FM radio station. During the interview, Madame Zuma discussed her work with increasing healthcare knowledge and education in South Africa; empowering South African women; and the work of the Bongi Ngema-Zuma Foundation.

On Saturday, May 10th, Madame Zuma received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Shaw during the University’s commencement ceremony. She received the degree for her “service to South Africa and the global population especially in the field of healthcare.” Additionally, she was heralded as a “healthcare trailblazer, visionary and global leader.”

Following the recognition, Madame Zuma delivered a passionate commencement speech to more than 300 graduates of the University. During her remarks, she discussed the importance of increasing healthcare access to not only South Africans, but to all Africans, particularly in the area of diabetes. Madame Zuma cited the pandemic numbers of South Africans currently living with diabetes and encouraged the graduates to use their education to solve healthcare issues worldwide.

Photos from her visit an be viewed here.