UKZN Student Wins Mandela Rhodes Scholarship
Ms Cerene Rathilal, an Honours student in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, has been awarded a prestigious Mandela Rhodes Scholarship to further her studies in any field she chooses.
The Scholarship is aimed at promoting leadership excellence in South Africa, pinpointing young students who display potential in both their academic endeavours and leadership ability, giving them the opportunity not only to further their studies but also to receive training to enhance their leadership skills.
Being selected from numerous applicants around the country is an indication of Rathilal’s remarkable capability, in both academics and leadership.
Rathilal says she decided to apply ‘because it is more than just a bursary. It is one of the most prestigious scholarships in Africa and apart from financial assistance; it provides young individuals with an encouraging platform to focus on key social issues in Africa’.
Rathilal, who matriculated in 2009 from Greenbury Secondary School in Phoenix with seven distinctions, began her studies towards a BSc at UKZN, completing a triple major in Applied Maths, Pure Maths and Statistics and graduating summa cum laude. She is currently completing her BSc (Hons) in Pure Mathematics.
She has elected to pursue her Masters degree in Mathematics at UKZN next year, focusing on the area of Knot Theory, under the expert supervision of Professor D Baboolal and Dr P Pillay.
Knot theory is a branch of topology, which mainly focuses on the study of three-dimensional objects called knots and links, with applications extending from chemistry and molecular biology to quantum mechanics.
Rathilal is also focused on giving back to the community. This year she and two colleagues started a programme called Maths Development Initiative aimed at providing scholars in the Phoenix area with free Mathematics tuition. She was inspired to begin the programme to combat the exploitation of students in Phoenix who were paying employed teachers for extra tuition, leaving a vacuum for those who could not afford the extra fees. Disappointed with the status quo, Rathilal found like-minded friends to join her in her undertaking.
- Christine Cuénod