Prestigious Award for Astrophysicist's Masters Thesis

Prestigious Award for Astrophysicist's Masters Thesis
S2A3 Medal winner, Ms Chevarra Hansraj.

The thesis Ms Chevarra Hansraj presented for her master’s degree has been selected as the best in the area of Sciences and Applied Sciences at UKZN in 2018, winning her an award from the SA Association for the Advancement of Science. The Association presents only one such award – the S2A3 medal – to each university in South Africa every year. 

Hansraj, whose father Professor Sudan Hansraj is a mathematician at UKZN, matriculated at Eden College in Durban with 8 As.

Her natural curiosity about the universe led her to UKZN which houses the world-class Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU).

Her passion for Astrophysics shone through during her studies which earned her Bachelor of Science and Honours degrees and her Masters in Applied Mathematics which she completed summa cum laude.

Hansraj is now registered for a PhD in Astrophysics focusing on Applied Mathematics.

On her achievement of the S2A3 medal, she said:  ‘I will continue to view it as a physical reminder that hard work always pays off. This encouragement will translate into me being motivated to keep giving of my best as a young researcher. Seeing my supervisors and family so happy for me is a great bonus.’

Hansraj plans to focus her research in relativistic astrophysics – the understanding of the fundamental mathematical structure of curved space time.

Hansraj thanked UKZN for providing a conducive environment to conduct research and also two of her supervisors, Professor Sunil Maharaj and Professor Rituparno Goswami, who provided valuable guidance, mentoring and encouragement throughout her studies.

‘I also thank the South African Association for the Advancement of Science for the initiative of rewarding young researchers, and my loving family for the support – their belief in me motivates me to give of my best every day.’

Said her father Professor Hansraj: ‘Chevarra is a motivated and focussed student. She has drawn considerable inspiration from her supervisors who are world-class in the field of general relativity and gravitation. With their continued guidance and direction I am confident she will be able to make a decided contribution to science. It is also pleasing that she has a commitment to teaching other students advanced topics.’

Words: Leena Rajpal

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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Genetics Student Awarded Prestigious Doctoral Research Scholarship

Genetics Student Awarded Prestigious Doctoral Research Scholarship
Ms Cwengile Dweba was presented with a UKZN Doctoral Research Scholarship by Professor Deresh Ramjugernath.

Doctoral student Ms Cwengile Chumisa Dweba has been awarded the UKZN Doctoral Research Scholarship.

Dweba had a long standing love for mathematics and life sciences, particularly in the genetics section, so in 2010 when the time came to choose a degree, she registered for a BSc in Genetics and has not looked back since.

The Doctoral Research Scholarship is awarded to a maximum of four senior postgraduate level students at UKZN.

Her PhD topic is: Identification and Molecular Characterisation of Antibiotic and Heavy Metal Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus from South African Livestock. She chose the topic because of her interest in food security that developed from her MSc work on new fungal resistant wheat cultivators.

‘I started this project straight after the recent outbreak of listeriosis in our country,’ said Dweba. ‘I wanted to monitor pathogenic microorganisms in food-producing livestock, especially in rural areas where they depend so much on backyard farming.’

Dweba’s accolades include a merit certificate in one of her biology modules during her honours year and an Excellence Award from the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) during her masters’ studies. She also participated in the College’s Postgraduate Research and Innovation Symposium in 2016 and won first prize for her presentation.

Her master’s research work produced two papers published internationally.

‘I plan to span the scholarship over the year so that it keeps me going thus removing the financial stress and just concentrate on completing my qualification.’

Dweba’s supervisor, Dr Oliver Tendayi Zishiri, described her as one of the most hard-working postgraduate candidates in his research group. ‘I have seen her struggle for the past two years with no funding, but her work ethic has never deteriorated. I am very happy to see her receive the scholarship she so rightly deserves.’

Said her mother Mrs Xoliswa Dweba: ‘Cwengile is very hard working and deserves this and much more. She has always made me so proud and I am very happy to see her receiving the scholarship.’

Dweba said her most inspirational experience at UKZN was being thanked by a third-year student she was assisting. ‘Teaching is a great passion of mine and to have received a letter of appreciation from one of my students truly inspired me to work harder and be better.’

Dweba, who was recently appointed an ad hoc lecturer for Genetics, says her dream is to be involved in both research and teaching.

Words: Samantha Ngcongo

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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It All Adds up for Maths Boffin

It All Adds up for Maths Boffin
Mr Devin Pelser (left) was presented with the Vincent Maphai Scholarship by the keynote speaker at the ceremony, Standard Bank’s Mrs Victoria Ngwenya.

Mr Devin Pelser is a top achiever. He got the highest marks for Maths and Physical Science in his matric year at Maritzburg College and at UKZN he completed his undergraduate degree in Maths and Computer Science summa cum laude going on to do his honours in Mathematics which he also achieved summa cum laude.

Pelser, who is busy reading for his Masters in Computer Science degree at the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science has now been awarded the Vincent Maphai Scholarship for being the top-ranked master’s student at UKZN.

The scholarship is named after the first Chair of Council of the University and former chairman of BHP Billiton South Africa.

Pelser says he is honoured to receive the scholarship. ‘This award is an acknowledgement of my achievements. It gives me a sense of pride and lets me know that all my hard work does not go unnoticed.’

The academic prowess and expertise of his professors inspired and guided Pelser throughout his academic journey. ‘I am amazed by the Maths department. They are able to simplify complex/abstract topics and push me to try reach a similar level of understanding.’

He acknowledged the role of his supervisor Professor Hugh Murrell in shaping his master’s degree. ‘I’m grateful to Professor Murrell for going above and beyond and hand crafting a course for me to extend into my masters.’

Pelser said scholarships relieved students of financial burdens. ‘I’m thankful I can now focus on my studies without having financial concerns or needing to work. It really has made a difference. The awards are certainly a motivation to keep working hard,’ said Pelser.

After completing his master’s degree, Pelser wants to enter the workforce and aspires to reach the heights of his professors.

Words: Sashlin Girraj 

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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Scholarship Winner has Sights Set on Being a Computer Scientist

Scholarship Winner has Sights Set on Being a Computer Scientist
Malegapuru W Makgoba Scholarship winner, Mr Rowan Pellow-Jarman.

Mr Rowan Pellow-Jarman is a former Penzance Primary School and Glenwood High School pupil who decided to study at UKZN because of its good academic reputation and close proximity to his home.

A Malegapuru W Makgoba Scholarship award winner, Pellow-Jarman is in the second year of study for a BSc degree in Computer Science at the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science.

The scholarship, named after the first Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UKZN, Professor Malegapuru W Makgoba, is awarded to the five top-ranked undergraduates going into second year.

‘The scholarship means I am able to study without worrying about funding or applying for a student loan which is a big relief,’ said Pellow-Jarman.  ‘I want to thank UKZN for this award and I commend the Institution for improving the accessibility to Higher Education.

‘My parents were very happy to hear that I had received a scholarship and that I will be able to support myself,’ said Pellow-Jarman.

‘My experience at UKZN so far has been positive and I am enjoying studying here.’

His advice to up-and-coming students is to be curious and consult with others for answers. ‘I advise fellow students to ask more questions in class and take advantage of the assistance teachers and other students offer,’ said Pellow-Jarman.

‘Get ahead early so you can enjoy the benefits later in life – you will regret missing opportunities.’

After completing his undergraduate degree, Pellow-Jarman plans to continue studying towards honours and master’s degrees.

Words: Sashlin Girraj

Photograph: Supplied


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Scholarship for Pure Mathematics Masters Student

Scholarship for Pure Mathematics Masters Student
Talent Excellence and Equity Scholarship winner, Mr Ntokozo Khuzwayo, is congratulated by his fiancé, Miss Sanele Mhlongo, and his mother, Mrs Thabi Khuzwayo.

Masters Mathematics candidate Mr Ntokozo Khuzwayo has won a Talent Equity and Excellence Acceleration Scholarship, awarded to Black South African students who achieve academic excellence and aim to follow a career in academia.

The prestigious award, funded by UKZN, enables the University to grow the next generation of academics.

Khuzwayo, the only South African student on the Pietermaritzburg campus to have registered for a Masters in Pure Mathematics, graduated summa cum laude with an Honours degree in Mathematics during the April 2019 graduation ceremonies, at the same time receiving the Hanno Rund Mathematics Award for the Best Honours Project in Pure Mathematics.

His Masters research is focused on differential geometry, involving the study of the geometry of curves, surfaces and manifolds. ‘I study the geometry of manifolds called the Kähler manifolds, a special type of complex manifold,’ said Khuzwayo. ‘I intend to determine the relationship between locally conformal Kähler structures and Kähler structures, as these structures have important applications in classical mechanics.’

Khuzwayo chose this field because of its abstract nature and its applicability to other fields including general relativity. ‘By doing research in this field, I am positive that my work will be used someday to solve real life problems,’ he said. 

Khuzwayo grew up in the village of KwaKhoza in Eshowe where he attended Imfihlo Primary School and Phindulimi High School, being raised by his grandmother while his parents were away working. He chose to study at UKZN because of its good reputation in research and teaching.

He said receiving the Talent Equity and Excellence Acceleration Scholarship was a great honour and would make it possible for him to help increase the number of mathematicians in South Africa.

‘I enjoy making a lifelong impact on other people’s lives. I hope to be one of the world’s best mathematicians.’

Khuzwayo aims to be a source of inspiration to students attending disadvantaged high schools, and plans to encourage them to work hard, believe in themselves and to consider mathematics as a career choice.

Khuzwayo thanked his supervisor, Professor Fortuné Massamba, for his guidance and for being available whenever Khuzwayo needed him. He also thanked his parents for their support and his primary school and high school teachers for being a source of inspiration.

He acknowledged the support of postgraduate colleagues he shares an office with, especially Mr Tebogo Kgothi and Mr Mohamed Hamed.

While his studies do not leave him with much free time, when he does have a gap, Khuzwayo uses this time to attend church or play chess.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal

 


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Prestige Sports Award for UKZN Sailor

Prestige Sports Award for UKZN Sailor
Sailing expert, Mr Jethro Brophy-Tintinger, received a UKZN Prestige Sports Scholarship.

BSc Mechanical Engineering first-year student and yachtsman Mr Jethro Brophy-Tintinger is the recipient of a 2019 UKZN Prestige Sports Scholarship, awarded for outstanding achievement in sport at provincial, national or international level.

Durban boy born and bred, Brophy-Tintinger has always loved the beach and the glorious weather the city offers.

‘Durban’s climate and closeness to the sea is what spurred my passion for sailing and helped me make my final decision to study at UKZN,’ said Brophy-Tintinger.

The scholarship is in recognition of his outstanding performances in the UKZN Junior Sailing team.

In 2018, Brophy-Tintinger took part in the Lipton Cup event held off Durban – one of the most prestigious regattas with an incredible history. He sailed with the Point Yacht Club team which finished in second place.

During the 2018 Youth Nationals, Brophy-Tintinger finished third on a two-man Hobie 16 which he skippered. ‘This year I joined the UKZN sailing team and have competed in two inter-varsity regattas where I was the skipper and finished second place in both,’ said Brophy-Tintinger.

He thanked the sponsors for the scholarship, saying he believes it will open bigger and better opportunities for him in sailing.

‘My parents are delighted to see my hard work paying off after all their years of supporting me.  If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here,’ he said.

Brophy-Tintinger is gearing up for an inter-varsity team sailing league at the Vaal Dam this month.

Words: Zolile Duma

Photograph: Supplied


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Electrical Engineering Student Wins 2019 Frene Ginwala Scholarship

Electrical Engineering Student Wins 2019 Frene Ginwala Scholarship
Electrical Engineering student Ms Londiwe Ntombela received a Frene Ginwala Scholarship.

BSc Electrical Engineering undergraduate student Ms Londiwe Ntombela received a Frene Ginwala Scholarship at UKZN’s 2019 Scholarship Awards Ceremony.

Ntombela of Nquthu, who completed her matric at the Maceba Secondary School in Hlathi Dam, recalls being torn between a career in aeronautical engineering or becoming a pilot. Her passion for engineering, coupled with inspiration and guidance from her high school teacher, Mr Zwaliphi Khumalo, led to her choosing electrical engineering.

‘I was in a science stream because my dream was to become a pilot or anything involving aeronautical engineering. I was inspired by Mr Khumalo who told me to study at UKZN because it is one of the best universities around, especially in the field of engineering,’ says Ntombela.

The Frene Ginwala Scholarship – a special prestige entrant equity award given to top Black African women entrants enrolling at the University as new undergraduate students – is named after the first Chancellor of UKZN and the former Speaker of Parliament.

Ntombela says being selected for the award has made her very aware that no-one should be discouraged because of their background but should instead use any such situation to their advantage.

‘Getting this scholarship really means a lot to me.  It shows that by working hard and believing in yourself you can make your dreams come true – the sky’s the limit. We as young Black people are often at a disadvantage because of our parents’ unstable financial situations regarding university education.  However, this scholarship helped me realise it is not all about our backgrounds but rather about diligence and commitment in our pursuits. There are people who are there to help you if you have potential,’ said Ntombela.

Ntombela thanked the sponsors of the scholarship: ‘I salute the good work they are doing for us as students and trust they will continue with the funding as the contribution does not only give us financial support, it also inspires us to study harder,’ said Ntombela.

Quoting Nelson Mandela, she said: ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world, it encourages public and private institutions to provide young people with a chance to study and make a difference in their lives as well as society.’

Both Ntombela’s mother, Mrs Mbali Ntombela, and high school principal, Mr Cedric Ngobese, are proud of Ntombela’s achievement.

‘Londiwe has been receiving academic accolades for her achievements since she arrived at this school,’ said Ngobese. ‘I have no doubt that at the end of the year she will excel and believe the high performance will enable her to cope with standards necessary to achieve in tertiary education.’

‘It has been an honour to watch Londiwe growing up – she has always been a well-behaved child, responsible and an example to her siblings,’ said Mbali. ‘From her primary school days, she knew what she wanted to be and getting this scholarship has now made it all possible.

‘As a parent I am proud of all her accomplishments and know she is going to excel in the engineering world,’ said Mbali.

Words: Zolile Duma

Photograph: Supplied

 


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Top Award for Fine Scholar

Top Award for Fine Scholar
Mr Shimon Corcos received the UKZN 100th Anniversary Scholarship.

Being one of the top three performing undergraduate students at UKZN has earned Mr Shimon Corcos the University’s 100th Anniversary Scholarship.

No stranger to being an award winner, Corcos’s stand-out academic performances began in Malvern Primary School where he earned the Dux, Good Fellowship and Principal Awards.

At St Benedict’s High School, he was able to pursue his passion and talents which included acting on stage in theatre and music productions, and he won the Dux and the Culture Awards.

After matriculating in 2017, Corcos registered the following year for his Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree at UKZN, where, he says, he was highly impressed by the values, organisational culture and team of world-renowned researchers in the Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science departments.

He was also the best first-year student in Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics, winning the Allan Gray First Year Computer Science Award, the Hanno Rund First Year Mathematics Award and the Quantum Research Group Award.

He is now in the second year of his degree in the mathematics stream with majors in Mathematics and Computer Science.

‘The scholarship is testament to the work and time I invest in my studies - I’m honoured to receive recognition for my continued efforts. Not only does it relieve some of the financial pressures of my family in today’s economic climate, but it also makes me keen to strive for accolades and achievements over and above my current degree,’ said Corcos.

Corcos envisages himself graduating with a PhD and making a valuable contribution to research.

‘What has truly inspired me about the UKZN experience is the enthusiastic attitude and diverse culture of lecturers and researchers in each School and the fluid communication between people of various backgrounds.  It is a happy environment to be in and the lecturers at UKZN embody leadership qualities I aspire to,’ said Corcos.

He thanked his family and also his sponsors for the scholarship awards.

Corcos had this to say to future UKZN students: ‘Together we can look beyond whatever struggles we face and be confident in ourselves – together we can achieve greatness despite all odds!’

Professor Richard Mace of the School of Chemistry and Physics who lectures Physics 113, spoke very highly of Corcos: ‘He portrayed a high level of mathematical and analytical abilities. He was the top student last year and was awarded a Certificate of Merit for his performance. He kept me on my toes with searching and insightful questions. I am sure that he will be very successful in his future studies and I wish him the very best in all his endeavours. Congratulations on your scholarship!’

Said his parents, Mr and Mrs Corcos: ‘Our son Shimon was born determined and embodies all that is good and true.  There is no goal that is too high for him. We are extremely proud not only of his academic achievements but of him as a person, a son, a sibling, a friend and a grandchild. Shimon’s perseverance is inspiring but mostly we admire his humbleness. I know that as much as he is a gift to us as a family, he will be a gift to the community at large as he strives to use his abilities to make the world a better place.’

Words: Leena Rajpal rajpall@ukzn.ac.za

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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Impressive Academic Performance Reaps Benefits

Impressive Academic Performance Reaps Benefits
Mr Ricardo Pillay was presented with a Malegapuru W Makgoba Scholarship by Professor Busisiwe Ncama.

An impressive academic performance at UKZN in 2018 resulted in Mr Ricardo Aaron Pillay being one of the top five first-year undergraduates in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science who each won a Malegapuru W Makgoba Scholarship.

After breezing through his primary and secondary education, Pillay received the approximae accessit award at Greenbury Secondary School in Durban for being placed second in Grade 12.

He enrolled at UKZN last year and is now in his second year of a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Computer Science and Information Technology.

‘I am humbled and truly grateful to be a recipient of this scholarship award,’ said Pillay. ‘I feel good to be relieving my parents of financial pressure and am motivated to continue excelling, because my hard work and dedication towards my studies are being recognised by the University.’

After completing his BSc degree, Pillay plans to be a software developer in a reputable company and to make an impact on society.

‘To me, UKZN maintains a high standard. I feel inspired by the dedication and care of the lecturers. I appreciate the easily assessable and well maintained facilities such as the computer labs and library,’ said Pillay.

Extremely grateful to his donors, he stressed that the support motivated him to perform at his best.   

He also acknowledged God for giving him the inner strength and guidance throughout his studies and was also thankful to his ‘amazing parents’ for always being the pillars of support in his life. ‘They are my biggest fans and I love them dearly,’ said Pillay.

‘The Discipline of Computer Science is proud of Richardo’s achievements,’ said UKZN’s Academic Leader, Computer Science, Professor Serestina Viriri. ‘His accomplishment is a testament to his hard work and dedication. We trust that he will continue excelling – we have high expectations for Ricardo.’

Grade 12 Life Science Educator at Greenbury Secondary School Mr K Govender said Ricardo had done well throughout his schooling years, making all of his teachers proud. ‘His cool and calm personality keeps him level headed and focussed on the goals he sets. His determination is unbelievable and he deserves every bit of help to take him to the highest level of his career path. Well done, Ricardo, and all the best in your career.’

Words: Leena Rajpal

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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BSc Student Aiming for High Honours

BSc Student Aiming for High Honours
Mr Kiaran Pillay received a Malegapuru W Makgoba Scholarship.

Malegapuru W Makgoba Scholarship recipient Mr Kiaran Pillay, who is in the second year of study for his BSc degree, says he is determined to graduate summa cum laude. Pillay was one of the top five first-year students in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science at UKZN to receive the scholarship

Pillay, who matriculated with good results from Verulam Secondary School, participated in the International Junior Science Olympiad competition in South Korea in 2015 and the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) debate in 2016.

When registering for his degree at UKZN he continued a fine tradition as all his extended family members graduated from the University.

Majoring in Computer Science, he has maintained his high academic standards at UKZN earning Dean’s Commendation awards in 2018 and in the first semester of this year.

Pillay said the scholarship was a bonus which assisted in paying his fees as well as a motivation to achieve top results during the course of his studies.

He says his choice to do a BSc Computer Science degree at UKZN was the right one in preparing him for his career. ‘The curriculum and the way in which lectures are delivered are of a high standard and this is what inspires me to one day be a lecturer.’

Pillay thanked the donor of the scholarship, emphasising that such awards encouraged top students to perform at a high level.

Said Professor Serestina Viriri: ‘The Discipline of Computer Science is justifiably proud of the achievements of Kiaran Pillay. His hard work and dedication to his studies, despite a challenging home environment (both his parents are deaf), have enabled him to be an achiever. We wish him well for the future and are confident he will pursue postgraduate studies.’

His grandmother Mrs Sundhree Pillay said the fact his parents were both deaf had not hampered his academic performances and he had always excelled in life. ‘Kiaran was so excited when he received the scholarship letter. As a single grandmother it makes me proud to see my grandson achieve his goals in life.’

Pillay has this advice for fellow students: ‘We do not get to choose how we start out in life. We do not get to choose the day we are born or the family we are born into, or what we are named at birth, what country we are born in, or our ancestry. All these things are predetermined by a higher power. By the time we are old enough to start making decisions, a lot of things in life are already in place. It’s important, therefore, that we focus on the future, the only thing we can change.’

Words: Leena Rajpal 

Photograph: Supplied


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Scholarship Came as a Surprise to Student

Scholarship Came as a Surprise to Student
Mr Lulama Mcebi was presented his Malegapuru W Makgoba Scholarship by Professor Busisiwe Ncama.

‘Receiving the scholarship is a great motivation for me. I never expected anything like this but it motivates me to study harder and to keep doing well academically,’ says Malegapuru W Makgoba Scholarship winner, Mr Lulama Mcebi.

The scholarship is awarded to five top-ranked undergraduates proceeding from first-year to second-year of study in each of the four Colleges at UKZN.

Mcebi is a second-year student in the School of Life Sciences where he is studying a BSc in Chemistry and Biochemistry, a course he chose thanks to his interest in research and discovering new things in the laboratory.

He says he chose to study at UKZN after doing research on universities in South Africa during which he established that UKZN was a leader in the field he was interested in.

Originally from Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape where he attended Mfundisweni Senior Secondary School, he says moving from a rural area to Pietermaritzburg was a huge transition for him, demanding that he adapt quickly to the challenges of meeting new people, navigate a different environment and balance a heavier workload.

He has managed by prioritising his studies while still playing the occasional football game and by spending time with friends.

Mcebi hopes to progress to postgraduate studies to better prepare himself for the workplace.

He thanked his family for their support, and credited Ms Zine Mdleleni and Ms Lusanda Mgudu Njenge of the Intlantsi Foundation for supporting him on his academic journey. He also acknowledged his friends at UKZN, especially Ms Nokuthula Ngcobo, for motivating him to excel, saying his academic success would be impossible without them.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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Thrill-Seeking Problem Solver Awarded Scholarship

Thrill-Seeking Problem Solver Awarded Scholarship
DVC Scholarship winner Mr Keegan Trehaeven with Professor Naven Chetty.

The thrill of finding solutions has always driven Mr Keegan Trehaeven’s interest in Maths and Physics.

‘I enjoy simply sitting down at a desk with a pencil and paper and solving difficult equations,’ said Trehaeven, who attended Umhlali Preparatory School and then Northwood High School.

He described himself as an average pupil at school but says since joining UKZN he has achieved more than he ever hoped for – including the College Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship!

The Scholarship is awarded to the top three undergraduates proceeding from second to subsequent years of study.

Trehaeven is a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Science qualification in Applied Maths and Astronomy, at the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science.

He is happy to have received the scholarship, seeing it as an endorsement from the College and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor. ‘I feel that this award means that I have earned the respect and recognition from esteemed individuals, who might very well be my future colleagues.’

Trehaeven says the award has motivated him to pursue postgraduate studies.  “I would like to thank the funders of this scholarship for recognising my hard work. It has strengthened my conviction to study towards a doctorate and pursue a career in research.”

His parents Mr Barry and Mrs Amanda Trehaeven said: ‘We are proud of Keegan because he always gives 110% in whatever he does and is deserving of all bursaries and accolades that he receives. He is a courteous gentleman and is filled with integrity. He strives for perfection and takes his studies seriously.’

Trehaeven describes his UKZN experience as being rooted in friendship and the desire to learn. He likens the University to Hogwarts (from the Harry Potter novels), saying that ‘help will always be given at UKZN to those who ask for it’.

Trehaeven hopes to base his postgraduate studies in some area of General Relativity. Wherever his research takes him, it’s hoped his solutions still provide a thrilling chase.

Words: Sashlin Girraj

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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50th Anniversary Endowment Fund Scholarship a Boost for Ambitious IT Student

50th Anniversary Endowment Fund Scholarship a Boost for Ambitious IT Student
50th Anniversary Award winner, Mr Salesh Harrysharan, with his proud parents Roshni and Shailendra.

Mr Salesh Harrysharan, a third-year Computer Science and Information Technology (IT) student, received UKZN’s 50th Anniversary Endowment Fund Scholarship for outstanding academic achievement during his studies.

‘Receiving this scholarship has given me the chance to confidently pursue the degree that has interested me,’ said Harrysharan, adding that the award had relieved the financial strain on his parents and motivated him to aim to graduate with a cum laude pass next year.

Harrysharan attended Tongaat Secondary School where his activities included serving as the elected Treasurer of the school’s Rotary Interact Club, representing his matric class on the Representative Council of Learners, and serving as a student leader. He was introduced to computers and technology at a young age, developing an early ambition for a career in the field.

Harrysharan chose UKZN for his tertiary studies because of the quality of its education, especially the wide range of opportunities it offers to develop students into successful individuals, and its reputation of producing excellent research.

Harrysharan elected to study Computer Science and IT since he says his biggest strength is problem solving and analytical thinking, both of which thrive on new challenges. He describes himself as motivated, ambitious and a perfectionist who is always up for a new challenge.

‘I believe that Computer Science and IT have given me a chance to develop myself as I am now able to produce creative ideas and solve problems,’ said Harrysharan. ‘I enjoy this degree as it has motivated me to think out of the box and look at scenarios from different perspectives.’

Harrysharan’s family experienced financial challenges throughout his studies but he said he chose to persevere regardless, drawing extra motivation to do well from his setbacks, and dedicating all of his time to his studies. His efforts paid off – he was awarded three Dean’s Commendations and five certificates of merit during his studies.

Harrysharan’s tactics for excelling at his studies included following a carefully set out timetable that allocated time for his studies and for recreational activities, which include volunteering with the local Keep Tongaat Beautiful Association.

His achievements were also recognised when he was admitted as a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society, and also served as a class representative during his studies.

Harrysharan thanked his family for their unwavering support and motivation, saying he would not have reached this point without them.

He aims to enter industry after completing his degree and begin contributing to the improvement of lives through technology.

‘I aspire to build a strong presence in the industry, working for a company that I respect and doing a job I love where I can always learn new skills which will enable me to contribute as much value as possible,’ he said.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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Hard Work and Dedication Reap Reward

Hard Work and Dedication Reap Reward
Maryam Babangida Scholarship winner, Ms Stephanie Fraser.

Bachelor of Science graduate Ms Stephanie Fraser, who is now studying for her honours degree, has been awarded the Maryam Babangida Scholarship for the best female student proceeding from undergraduate to honours study at UKZN.

The award, from an anonymous Nigerian donor, honours Dr Maryam Babangida who contributed to the improvement of living conditions of Nigerian women.

Fraser excelled in Maths and Science at Northlands Girls’ High School in Durban and continued that success at UKZN where she completed her BSc degree and is now reading for a BSc Honours in Chemistry.

She sees the ascholarship as recognition of all the hard work she has put in over the past three years which she will continue with in her pursuit of a master’s degree. Her ultimate goal is to get involved in projects that push the boundaries of knowledge for the benefit of society and the world.

‘At UKZN I have been mentored by top-quality academics who conduct research of an international standard,’ said Fraser. ‘The insight I have gained from them is invaluable. I have also been inspired by the commitment the University makes to engage in projects that promote social upliftment and give back to the community. I feel very proud to be a part of an institution that honours its responsibility to bridge the socio-economic divide and strives to provide an education to all those who are deserving.’

English teacher at Northlands Girls’ High Ms S Byrne said Fraser was good-natured and self-disciplined with a respectful attitude. ‘She is an excellent ambassador for the school through her personal and academic achievements and was highly popular among her peers and educators. It was always an absolute pleasure to teach a learner of her calibre.’

Professor Neil Koorbanally of the School of Chemistry and Physics at UKZN said: ‘Ms Stephanie Fraser has been an exemplary student throughout her studies at UKZN.  She is an amazing chemist.  Her hard work and dedication have developed her into a truly remarkable scientist who we are proud of.  She will definitely be one of the leaders of our society.’

Proud parents and UKZN alumni Dr David and Dr Leigh-Anne Fraser said: ‘Stephanie has always thrown herself fully into whatever she’s undertaken, whether it be her academics, music, sports or spiritual life – she’s a real polymath. She is acutely aware that with every blessing and gift, like her scholarship, comes a responsibility to give back to others. Stephanie is unassuming and reserved and deeply self-critical with a wickedly dry sense of humour. Her scholarship is a great source of pride, and something that encouraged her to stretch herself to live up to its high standards. We’re very proud of our daughter!’

Words: Leena Rajpal

Photograph: Supplied


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Scholarship Boosts Self Confidence of Student

Scholarship Boosts Self Confidence of Student
Miss Nomfundo Mlambo with Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath.

Receiving a Frene Ginwala Scholarship gave Computer Science and Information Technology first-year student Ms Nomfundo Mlambo belief in her abilities and confidence in herself generally.

The Frene Ginwala Scholarship – named after Frene Ginwala, the first Chancellor of the University and former speaker of Parliament – is awarded to top performing Black African women entering UKZN as new undergraduates.

Mlambo said the award also relieved financial pressure on her parents, who support her and her three sisters.

Mlambo attended Empangeni High School, matriculating with an impressive average of 87%. Despite her sterling results, she says the process of applying to universities and finding scholarships was daunting.

She was accepted at several universities for various programmes, including for Medicine in the Western Cape, but chose UKZN because of its fine reputation and the fact it is close to home.

‘I’ve developed a slow brewed respect and deep passion to succeed, which drew me to UKZN.’

Adapting study methods and coping mechanisms in high school to university standards was a challenge, but Mlambo took it one step at a time. She also took advantage of various programmes and support offered by UKZN, such as the Supplemental Instruction programme and sessions with her School’s Academic Development Officer (ADO) to hone her approach to her workload.

Mlambo, who describes herself as creative and someone who loves helping people, chose to study Computer Science and IT in the face of the looming fourth industrial revolution, saying she thought it important to seize the opportunity to prepare for the new horizons.

Mlambo credited her educators at Empangeni High for helping her triumph in the challenging National Senior Certificate exams, while it was thanks to a respected teacher who introduced the skill of coding in her Grade 10 year that Mlambo developed an affinity for it.

‘IT provides something no other discipline does: the freedom to uncover a million solutions for one problem, allowing creativity and the ability to fuse whatever you do with any other field,’ she said.

In addition to her studies, Mlambo plays netball at UKZN, enters coding competitions where her team has excelled, and has also taken up a part-time job at a media company. She uses a diary to prioritise her goals and takes time out to read and relax to combat anxiety.

Mlambo says she is motivated by a desire to make her family proud.

She thanked her high school principal, Mr Sizwe Zwane, for his guidance and support, and her family, particularly her mother, for their care and encouragement. She also thanked the ADO in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science for his assistance.

After completing her degree, Mlambo plans to continue to postgraduate studies, and access opportunities to travel and learn from global IT leaders.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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Gift for Solving Maths Problems Leads to Great Things for Science Student

Gift for Solving Maths Problems Leads to Great Things for Science Student
TB Davis Scholarship winner, Mr Muhammad Ikram.

Mr Muhammad Zohaib Ikram’s flair as a youngster for Chemistry and Mathematics and the joy he got out of solving complex problems at high school led him to the field of Engineering.

Now some years later Ikram is an MSc Chemical Engineering student at UKZN who is the recipient of the TB Davis Scholarship.

‘I went to Orient Islamic School in Durban and enjoyed both Maths and Chemistry,” said Ikram. “I chose engineering as I have always enjoyed the challenges that come with Maths and Science as well as solving problems. I also felt there was a lot of opportunity to make an impact to bring about a positive change in society.’

Ikram, who is currently working in the field of nanomaterials for water treatment and catalysis, graduated this year with his BSc Engineering (Chemical Engineering) degree cum laude - the only student in the discipline to do so. Ikram received an award for the best third-year student at the School of Engineering awards function in 2018 and was also awarded the South African Institution of Chemical Engineers’ silver medal for the best student in Chemical Engineering in 2018.

The TB Davis Scholarship was established by the family of Mr TB Davis for top Masters students in Engineering.

Ikram thanked both UKZN and the scholarship sponsors for the award, saying it had motivated him to continue working hard.

‘I value this scholarship highly, not only as a means of financial assistance but also as a token of recognition,’ said Ikram. ‘Being a recipient of this prestigious award is indeed very humbling, and my family and I are extremely grateful. More importantly, it proves I am on the right track in terms of becoming a competent professional and making a difference in the community and in our country as a whole –  which is the ultimate ambition for us all,’ said Ikram.

Ikram’s mother, Ms Zubeda Mansoor, and academic leader and supervisor for Chemical Engineering at UKZN, Dr David Lokhat, are proud of Ikram’s achievement.

‘I am extremely proud of my son’s achievement which is richly deserved because he is a hardworking and diligent person. My heartfelt gratitude to the sponsor,’ said Mansoor.

‘I believe that through his sustained efforts, Zohaib will be a valuable asset to the country, both as a potential leader in science and technology research as well as a practising professional engineer,’ said Lokhat.

Words: Zolile Duma

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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Zac Yacoob Scholarship for Mathematics Whizz

Zac Yacoob Scholarship for Mathematics Whizz
Zac Yacoob Scholarship winner, Mr Kishan Dayaram.

Honours student in Mathematics Mr Kishan Dayaram has been awarded the Zac Yacoob Scholarship for being the best student progressing to an honours degree at UKZN.

The Scholarship is named after Judge Zakeria (Zac) Yacoob, a former Constitutional Court judge and the last Chancellor of the former University of Durban-Westville.

‘Receiving this Scholarship has motivated me to work even harder in the future,’ said Dayaram.

The Glenwood High School old boy elected to study at UKZN because of the quality of the Pure Mathematics degree it offers. His enjoyment of problem solving and the certainty of proofs led him to choose the programme which he excelled at.

After his first year, Dayaram received a Malegapuru William Makgoba Scholarship from the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) for being among the top five undergraduates proceeding from first to second year of study, and also received a CAES award for being the top second- year Mathematics student in 2017.

Dayaram is committed to his studies and the enjoyment he derives has meant he is able to spend most of his time on his academic work, with the exception of the occasional break for a game of chess.

Dayaram thanked his parents for their encouragement and support of his efforts that have enabled him to succeed.

After he has completed his honours degree, he plans to do his masters as he is keen to further his research.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Sashlin Girraj


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Mandela Rhodes Scholarship for Burundi-Born Masters Candidate

Mandela Rhodes Scholarship for Burundi-Born Masters Candidate
Mandela Rhodes Scholarship winner Mr Kevin Kantize celebrates his success with his aunt, Ms Esperande Bigirimana, and his cousin, Master Sun Joel Nkunzimana.

Masters candidate in the School of Chemistry and Physics Mr Kevin Kantize of Burundi has been awarded a Mandela Rhodes Scholarship

The Scholarships seek to build exceptional leadership in Africa and recognise scholars who demonstrate leadership and integrity; value education and the creation of opportunities for others; are entrepreneurial and innovative; and who promote reconciliation, freedom, peace and prosperity for all. 

Kantize said being a recipient of a Mandela Rhodes Scholarship was an honour and a privilege. ‘I hope to inspire the youth to be more involved and take responsibility for the future we want. We can’t afford to escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.’

Kantize is currently doing research based on electrochemical detection of water pollutants using metallophthalocyanines-based chemically modified electrodes. He plans to use the knowledge gained from his research to help develop advanced analytical techniques that will detect lower concentrations of hazardous chemicals in water bodies as well as water remediation techniques to provide access to potable water. 

He aims to develop functional electrochemical sensors that are more sensitive and selective towards specific analytes, and more cost-effective than existing analytical techniques. 

Kantize demonstrated his intellect and determination when he got his BSc in Chemistry and Chemical Technology and his Honours in Chemistry cum laude despite facing challenges that included a daily eight-kilometre walk to campus and learning a new language. His early dreams of becoming a Medical doctor led him to study Chemistry, a subject he excelled at. He values it for its ability to explain why things happen the way they do. 

Kantize was consistently top of his class, receiving scholarships and awards that enabled him to further his studies. 

His contributions are not just in the academic sphere. Kantize is the Secretary General of the Burundian Refugee Community in Pietermaritzburg, where he is involved in the youth development programme and oversees various community projects. 

‘I saw that there was a need for someone to get involved and contribute in one way or the other,’ said Kantize. ‘This organisation is important because as the Burundian community in particular, we face challenges and it is always good when people put their minds together to try and help one another.’ 

Kantize dedicated his scholarship to his uncle Mr Ernest Nkunzimana who died in April this year.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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All in the Stars for Prestige Award Winner

All in the Stars for Prestige Award Winner
DVC Scholarship winner Ms Shavani Naicker with her proud family, father Karthigan, mother Soogandri and sister Lavanya.

Black holes in space are what fascinate Ms Shavani Naicker, a third-year Bachelor of Science student who received a College Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship in recognition of her top performance over two or more years of undergraduate study.

Naicker is one of three top ranked undergraduates in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science to receive this honour, awarded to students proceeding from second to subsequent years of study.

Now based on the Westville campus, Naicker, who attended Star College Girls’ High School in her home town of Durban, chose to study at UKZN because of its offering of a well-structured astronomy course. She is majoring in Astronomy and Applied Mathematics, choosing these majors because of her passion for Astronomy.

‘I enjoy the sense of curiosity and excitement astronomy brings me as well as the many challenges involved,” she said. “Curiosity is essentially the driving force behind my passion.’

Naicker plans to carry her passion for astronomy into postgraduate studies, and is hoping to progress to a PhD in Astrophysics, focusing her research on black holes.

‘My inspiration stems from the late theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking,’ said Naicker. ‘His book: A Brief History of Time, intrigued me on the topic of black holes.’

The high achiever has worked hard to balance the demands of her academic career with activities that keep her grounded, such as cycling and hiking.

Naicker thanked her family, particularly her parents, for ensuring that she received the high quality education she needed to progress in life and for guiding her and supporting her through the decisions she had made thus far.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal

 


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Genetics and Molecular Biology Favourite Subjects of Scholarship Winner!

Genetics and Molecular Biology Favourite Subjects of Scholarship Winner!
College DVC Scholarship recipient, Ms Leigh Anne Trouchik, with Professor Naven Chetty.

A love for Science began at an early age for College Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship winner Ms Leigh Anne Trouchik.

‘I remember my Grade 5 teacher always going the extra mile to teach us concepts in Science and at Durban Girls’ High, I developed an interest in both Molecular Biology and Genetics. These experiences resulted in a life-long curiosity and passion for the sciences,’ said Trouchik.

Very aware of where her interests lay and having established that UKZN had an excellent science department, Trouchik made the relatively easy decision to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree at the University. Now in her third year, she will major in Genetics and Cellular Biology at the School of Life Sciences.

The College Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship is given to the three top-ranked undergraduates proceeding from second to subsequent years of study.

For Trouchik the scholarship is an honour and an aid. ‘I am so honoured to have been awarded this prestigious scholarship. It has lifted a huge financial burden off of my parents and allowed me to complete my studies. The award recognises my hard work and validates the countless hours of studying I have invested in my degree,’ she said.

Her junior school principal Mr Des Friedrichs of Morningside Primary is not surprised by her stellar performance at university. ‘Leigh Anne was one of the most amazing pupils to have passed through Morningside Primary School. I have had the honour of seeing her receive numerous awards, despite having difficulty speaking English as a child. She has proven that obstacles are merely interesting challenges.’

Her parents are also very proud of her achievements. ‘We were so excited when we found out that Leigh Anne had been awarded the DVC scholarship. She spends every moment studying and working hard, so we are so grateful that her efforts have been acknowledged,’ said Mr Dimitri and Mrs Tatiana Trouchik.

Trouchik is grateful that the scholarship has enabled her to follow her passion. ‘It is so important to love what you are studying and I have enjoyed every aspect of my degree. I wake up each day excited to come to campus and learn,’ she said.

Trouchik’s future plans include pursuing honours and then master’s degrees in Genetics. ‘I want to be a researcher and hope to make a break through that will help future generations,’ she said.

She said her father, a UKZN alumnus, had always told her that education was the best gift she could give herself and she was very happy with her decision to receive this ‘gift’ at UKZN.

‘I can honestly say it was the best decision I have ever made.’

Words: Sashlin Girraj

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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