24 Pharmacy Students Graduate Summa Cum Laude

24 Pharmacy Students Graduate <em>Summa Cum Laude</em>
Twenty-four summa cum laude passes for Pharmacy.

Twenty-four Bachelor of Pharmacy students graduated summa cum laude at the 2018 Graduation ceremony.

They are: Ms Sarah Ismail Mayet, Ms Nihaal Ebrahim, Ms Lutfiyya Nazeer, Ms Leshni Govender, Ms Faizana Meer, Ms Kimera Reddy, Mr Azraa Jeewa, Ms Nicole-Ann Reddy, Ms Zahraa Sheik, Ms Telicia Jobraj, Ms Fatima Zahra Patel, Ms Naeema Dhoodhat, Ms Kajal Mohanlal, Ms Nazeefa Limalia, Ms Janine Peruimall, Ms Megashree Arumugam, Ms Faatimah Kazi, Ms Mikayla Ramjattan, Ms Elizabeth Mthembu, Ms Tashin Thumbiran, Mr Saien Govender, Ms Suvira Sewlall, Ms Thobeka Vilakazi, and Ms Amanda Mngwengwe.

‘I am very happy with my accomplishment. I expected good results as I worked hard and had the support of God and my family,’ said Ms Leshni Govender (24), a Pharmacist intern at RK Khan Hospital, who chose to study Pharmacy because she felt it was a field that would allow her to interact with and help people.

The biggest challenges were being away from home and financial constraints. ‘Many mistakes were made together with lessons learned. Overall, it was a pleasant and adventurous experience.’

Mr Saien Govender (21), also a Pharmacist intern at RK Khan Hospital, said he was delighted with the summa cum laude status. ‘I have yet to decide whether to further my studies or continue working.’ 

He believes pharmacy offers him a chance to use his knowledge to benefit others, ‘It’s a versatile degree because it opens up many different working environments one can explore such as hospital, industrial or community pharmacy work.’

Govender said UKZN had provided him with a healthy study environment. ‘I was able to find my rhythm by balancing my studies with physical activity such as indoor soccer to alleviate heavy stress levels. I was supported by classmates, friends and lecturers – I am very grateful to them.’

He draws his strength from his parents who have worked hard most of their life to give him and his sister every opportunity.

‘I tried to have no regrets by the end of each day. This quote from the movie The Equalizer motivated me: “Progress, not perfection”.’

Ms Nicole-Ann Reddy (21) said she felt overawed when graduating. ‘It still feels like I matriculated just yesterday! This accomplishment was not expected as I have faced many challenges over the years but I have always been one who aimed to achieve good results so I am thankful knowing my hard work was not in vain.’

She wants to study further and get involved in researching medication for diseases that are under researched or have no cure.

‘I studied Pharmacy because I always had an interest in Chemistry but at first I thought that the whole programme involved doing pharmaceutical practicals in a lab. After my first semester, I realised that Pharmacy is an extremely dynamic profession that does not just involve manufacturing of medication but is patient-orientated to meet the healthcare needs of the community.’ 

Reddy gets her drive from her highly motivated and hardworking parents.

‘I am deeply humbled and grateful. This achievement did not come without hard work, determination, family support, and, most importantly, prayer,’ said Pharmacist intern, Ms Fatima Patel (22).

Patel wants to further her studies and complete a PhD. ‘Other than that, I just aspire to be happy, to help others, and to hold the flag of pharmacy high,’ she said.

According to Patel, UKZN grows on one. ‘In the beginning, it was a huge culture shock - coming from a matric class of about 25 to sitting in a class of more than 100 students. But as the months passed, I built friendships that I hope will last a lifetime, and by the end of it even the lecturers felt like family!’

Said Pharmacy intern Ms Telicia Jobraj (24): ‘Seeing: Degree Completed - Summa Cum Laude, was thrilling. I was bursting with mixed emotions of having accomplished what I hoped to and moving on to a new chapter in life.’

Jobraj plans to complete a Master’s degree in Pharmacology and specialise in Clinical Pharmacology.

She initially studied Civil Engineering but soon found it was not for her. ‘After researching several other degrees, my dad suggested Pharmacy and I was surprised because I never imagined myself studying something in health science. I then researched the degree, the profession and opportunities available and found that it would be a new challenge that I was excited to start.’

She said being part of the Health Department, being able to give back to community and to improve public health, had been the driving forces for achievements.

Jobraj says she enjoyed an excellent study experience at UKZN. ‘The lecturers and admin staff were pleasant and helpful. If it wasn’t for my lecturers and their guidance through the years, I wouldn't have managed to attain this excellence.’

‘I’m overwhelmed with joy, I’ve been working hard since my first year but getting a summa was a beautiful surprise. I didn’t think I would do this well,’ said Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital Pharmacist intern Elizabeth Mthembu (21). ‘Pharmacists give life to medicine through knowledge and skills and through that medicine is life given to patients. I studied this degree to make a positive impact on people’s lives, especially their health.’

Being away from home was a challenge but her mother’s constant phone calls saw her through. ‘Whenever I found things getting difficult I would pray and things would then look doable. Prayer gave me faith and hope that nothing is impossible,’ said Mthembu.

She is from a family of six living in Groutville, KwaDukuza. ‘They treat me like a princess. My family’s love and support played a huge role in my achievements.’

Mthembu’s hobbies include reading novels, listening to music and watching cooking shows on TV. Her favourite dish is her mother’s steamed bread and beans.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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Best Overall Physiotherapy Student in the College of Health Sciences Named

Best Overall Physiotherapy Student in the College of Health Sciences Named
Top of her class, Physiotherapy graduate Ms Kathryn Foulkes.

Physiotherapy graduate Ms Kathryn Foulkes completed her degree at the top of her class, scooping the Best Overall Student prize at the College of Health Sciences award ceremony.

‘I am very happy to have completed this degree and thankful I had the opportunity to study at a first class university such as UKZN,’ said an elated Foulkes.

‘I never expected the results I obtained but hard work, determination and perseverance enabled me to exceed all expectations.’

Foulkes did not only surprise herself she also made her parents proud by being the first person in the family to obtain a degree.

According to Foulkes, with hard work and a strong mind set anything is possible. ‘That’s the attitude I’ll take forward as I enter the working world with all the challenges there.’

Currently doing her community service, future plans include working with children and completing a Master’s degree in Physiotherapy.

‘My will to succeed as well as an amazing support system I have at home encourages me to reach new heights,’ said Foulkes.

She advised those still working towards their degrees to be disciplined, organised and prepared for whatever comes their way while studying. ‘Be passionate each and every day and remember why you started,’ she said. 

Foulkes, who was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, moved to Durban with her parents when she was eight years old, completing her matric at Danville Park Girls High School in Durban North.

She is grateful to her parents for the love and support they give to her and her siblings. I am so grateful for all they’ve done for us - I wouldn’t have achieved all I have done without their unconditional love and support.’

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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Dentistry’s Best Overall Student for 2017 Rewarded

Dentistry’s Best Overall Student for 2017 Rewarded
Best Overall Dental Therapy graduate, Ms Brittany Chloe Dolan.

UKZN Dentistry’s Best Overall Student for 2017, Ms Brittany Dolan, graduated summa cum laude and also received recognition for the Student who Represents the Professional Ideal.

‘I feel a great sense of accomplishment,’ said Dolan. ‘I’m also grateful that I have a lot to show for all the hard work I put in throughout my years of study.’

She said her family was “over the moon” about her results. ‘They admire my strong work ethic - it gives them some idea of the type of practitioner I will be. They are also delighted that I will be able to live out my God-given mission to bring healing and health to others.’

Dolan thanked all those who helped her along the way. ‘I’m grateful to everyone who supported and aided me in this accomplishment. I didn’t achieve this alone.’ 

Her future plans include gaining as much dentistry experience as she can, helping her community according to God’s plan for her and to never stop learning. 

She advised those who were still studying to always believe they could achieve better, ‘Don’t let where you are, limit where you have the potential to be and never be afraid or too embarrassed to ask for help.

‘I have a close bond with my three sisters who are my best friends. We march to the beat of our own drum and have our own unique brand of crazy fun that always keeps me entertained.’

Words: Nombuso Dlamini:


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Occupational Therapy Student Graduates Summa Cum Laude

Occupational Therapy Student Graduates <em>Summa Cum Laude</em>
Occupational Therapist, Ms Kiara Bricknell graduated summa cum laude.

Ms Kiara Bricknell (22) graduated with an Occupational Therapy degree summa cum laude.

‘I am grateful that my sustained efforts over the last four years have paid off,’ said Bricknell (22). ‘My family is proud of my achievements and hard work.’

She said family and peer support had helped her through her degree. ‘Support from peers was important as they were the only ones who knew exactly what I was going through,’ said Bricknell.

Bricknell’s sister, Janelle, who graduated cum laude a few years ago in the Speech-Language Therapy Discipline, had been a big inspiration for her.

She advised those who were still studying to be consistent, to work hard and attend lectures. 

Bricknell is currently completing her community service at East Griqualand and Usher Memorial Hospital in Kokstad and plans to continue working and to also do a master’s degree.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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Taking a Bullet During Research Did Not Bring Doctoral Student Down

Taking a Bullet During Research Did Not Bring Doctoral Student Down
Dr Melkamu Kassa (right) thanks Dr Jeanne Grace for helping him achieve his dream.

Dr Melkamu Kassa was shot and wounded, imprisoned and spent three days in a forest without food, water or shelter while doing research in Ethiopia for his doctorate from UKZN.

So to say Kassa, an Ethiopian citizen, faced great obstacles in his PhD studies is a huge understatement. What he suffered and endured was incredible, terrifying - enough to bring most people to their knees.

Yet he overcame all obstacles and graduated from the College of Health Sciences (CHS) fulfilling his life’s dream.

 Kassa conducted his research amid Ethiopia’s civil unrest which began in 2016, during his most crucial data collection phase. The study, funded by the CHS, focused on health information and physical exercise for non-communicable diseases prevention in the Ethiopian healthcare system.

Funded by the CHS, Kassa was able to pursue his dreams despite enduring assaults and hardships, including the displacement of his family.

In August, 2016 Kassa and other passengers on a bus were arrested by the federal police while travelling from Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar. The arrests ended with the killing of 15 civilians at the hands of the security forces. ‘Students, farmers, civil servants, and factory workers were protesting against the government. Following the protests, there was gunfire, arbitrary arrests and human right violations by the police.

‘Civil liberty restrictions were imposed and a curfew enforced. Further, the government declared it would no longer tolerate any form of disruptions to law and order and instructed security forces to take necessary measures to restore peace,’ recalled Kassa.

Kassa supported his wife and child during his years of study relying on the funding he received from UKZN. ‘When the unrest and violence started in Ethiopia, I lost hope of completing my PhD because my family was displaced.

‘My supervisor Dr Jeanne Grace was dedicated to making my dreams and passion for writing come true, and in 2017 I published my first article. This achievement allowed me to focus on my studies and to complete and submit my PhD dissertation.’

Kassa’s study revealed that in Ethiopia the lack of physical exercise, hypertension and an unhealthy diet were the top three risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs). His study also revealed that 78% of healthcare professionals working in Ethiopian hospitals are not integrating physical exercise as a strategy to prevent NCDs.

Further, the study uncovered that within the Ethiopian healthcare system, there was a lack of national co-ordination to promote physical exercise, a shortage of trained physical exercise professionals in the hospitals, a lack of physical exercise prescription guidelines, and a lack of education on how to prescribe physical exercise among healthcare professionals.

He also found that the built environment, lack of supportive policy, healthcare professionals’ lifestyle, inadequate health information coverage of physical exercise benefits and hospital buildings were barriers to the integration of physical exercise into the healthcare system.

Celebrating the completion of his PhD, his supervisor, Dr Jeanne Grace commented: ‘Dr Kassa is a humble and very dedicated, hardworking student. Despite his hardships at home, he never gave up and showed so much perseverance. I am extremely proud of him as he will be the first Ethiopian PhD student graduating from our Department of a cohort of 20 Ethiopians.’

‘There were a number of obstacles on my graduation path, including hunger, thirst, arrest, being shot and the possibility of being killed,’ said Kassa. ‘However, God was with me! Now at the age of 32, I have received my PhD from UKZN.’

Words: MaryAnn Francis


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Occupational Therapy Students Graduate Cum Laude

Occupational Therapy Students Graduate <em>Cum Laude</em>
Four Occupational Therapy students graduate cum laude and one summa cum laude.

Bachelor of Occupational Therapy students - Ms Tayla Moodie, Ms Aamina Hoosain, Ms Humaira Khan and Ms Juwairiyya Paruk – all graduated cum laude.

‘The feeling I have after finishing my degree as one of the top achievers is indescribable,’ said an elated Moodie. ‘Reaping the rewards after four years of hard work, dedication and passion is wonderful.

Moodie says her family supported her all along the way, ‘They never pushed me but rather encouraged me to do the best I could. They are beyond proud.

‘I didn’t want to just complete my chosen degree but to excel and thrive.’

She is currently completing her community service and is also doing extra courses in Occupational Therapy.

Her future plans include completing Sensory Integration training and opening her own paediatric practice.

Moodie advised other students to be committed and dedicated to their studies and to make use of every opportunity which arises.

Said Khan: ‘It has always been my goal to complete my degree with honours so it is great to know my hard work has finally paid off.’

Currently completing her community service at the Phoenix Assessment and Therapy Centre, she aims to specialise in vocational rehabilitation and hand therapy. ‘My goal is to have my own private practice where I can engage in every subsection of occupational therapy. 

‘Throughout my degree the watch word was “consistency” – one needs to be consistent as it helps ensure you never give up, lose confidence or motivation and always strive to be better.

‘As Dori from the movie Finding Nemo says: “Just keep swimming”.’

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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Top Student Scoops Susan M Swart Award

Top Student Scoops Susan M Swart Award
Top Speech Language Therapy Student, Ms Robyn Furber.

Ms Robyn Furber graduated top of her Speech-Language Therapy class and also received a Susan M Swart Award for her academics.

‘I’m really happy that all the hard work paid off and am very proud to be graduating with some brilliant speech-language therapists who I know will do great things in the future,’ said Furber.

Furber, who has suffered from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) since she was 13 years old, is grateful to her family who she says supported her throughout her studies and hopes her achievement has made them proud.

ME/CFS causes extreme fatigue and flu-like symptoms for months and years at a time.

This achievement means so much to Furber, not only because it marks a successful end to the long journey of her degree but because there have been times in her life when she thought she would never be able to lead a normal life.

‘Being sick forced me to sacrifice a lot of the hopes I had for high school and adolescence,’ said Furber. ‘UKZN allowed me to complete my degree over an extended period to allow for my different abilities. As a result, I was able to achieve more than I had allowed myself to hope for. That in itself means everything to me.’

She completed Grades 8 to 11 at Danville Park Girls’ High School in Durban but when she became too ill to keep up with regular school schedules, she spent two years completing matric at St Barnabas Independent School.

Her future plans include working with special populations and children from birth to three, especially in the public sector where there is a big need and a lot to learn. ‘Above and beyond everything though, I want to live a useful life,’ said Furber.

Finding joy in small things, learning to be grateful and to look for wisdom in every experience keeps Furber going. 

‘She advised those who were still studying to look inward. ‘Find out what kind of person and professional you want to be, then try to look for areas that need work. Don’t aim for numbers or pass/fail criteria. Look for skills, look for the applications that follow each theoretical principle you’re taught. Work to the best of your ability. Look to others for inspiration, but do not aim for their marks. Aim for qualities, attitudes, approaches to learning and never equate your marks with your personal worth.’

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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Cameroonian Couple Complete Ground-Breaking PhD Studies

Cameroonian Couple Complete Ground-Breaking PhD Studies
Cameroonian couple celebrate their success with supervisor, Professor Sabiha Essack (centre).

A Cameroonian couple Dr Raspail Carrel Founou-Zangue and Dr Luria Leslie Founou have completed ground-breaking PhD studies in Medical Microbiology and Pharmaceutical Microbiology at UKZN.

Founou-Zangue and Founou were both supervised by Professor Sabiha Yusuf Essack Head of the Antimicrobial Research Unit, while Founou also had Dr Cyrille le Duc F Djoko as her co-supervisor.

The couple said it had been difficult to juggle between family responsibilities and their PhD studies but they persevered and pushed themselves hard to meet deadlines and produce high quality results. ‘Being together while doing our PhDs made it easier as we had similar concerns and challenges. It was a case of team work,’ said Founou-Zangue.

‘I am very happy and have a light heart. The work was hard, but the success has calmed down my heart.’

Said Founou: ‘It is an incredible happiness and I am infinitely grateful to God for the protection, courage and strength given to me during the completion of my doctorate.

 ‘I am also very grateful and indebted to my supervisor and mentor Professor Sabiha Essack, who was a real inspiration. Her determination, devotion, motivation, guidance, confidence and kind-heartedness were key for this accomplishment.’

Titled: Molecular Epidemiology of Antibiotic Resistant ESKAPE Pathogens Isolated from Public Sector Hospitals in the uMgungundlovu District of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Founou-Zangue’s study investigated risk factors, prevalence, phenotypic and genotypic profiles including, but not limited to, clonal relatedness, genetic diversity and resistance mechanisms associated with ESKAPE bacteria.

Considering antibiotic resistance is a priority for South African health policy-makers, the research was conducted from carriage and clinical isolates obtained from patients in a rural, district and tertiary urban hospital within the public health sector in the uMgungundlovu district.

Founou-Zangue says the study added new knowledge about the different resistance mechanisms associated with ESKAPE pathogens isolated from public hospitals in South Africa, and confirmed these bacteria as a serious global public health threat demanding rigorous surveillance and containment measures. It further highlights the necessity for implementation of strict infection, prevention and control measures and antibiotic stewardship in communities and hospitals.

‘The generated results call for an urgent implementation of global policies, guidelines, activities and effective interventions including regular screening and surveillance in communities and hospitals to contain the spread of ESKAPE pathogens, to monitor epidemiological changes, ascertain socio-economic impact and inform appropriate antibiotic treatment in South African hospitals,’ said Founou-Zangue.

He produced 12 papers from his thesis as first author and has co-authored a further 11 papers, some of which have been published in internationally recognised journals while others are still under review.

Founou’s thesis was tiled: Molecular Epidemiology of Livestock-Associated Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (LA-MRSA) and Extended-Spectrum Beta-Lactamase (ESBL)-Producing Enterobacteriaceae in Pigs and Exposed Workers in Cameroon and South Africa.

The study investigated and provided evidence for the containment of the zoonotic transmission of antibiotic resistant bacteria through the implementation of the One Health approach, compliant with the directives of the World Health Organization Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance, the FAO Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance 2016-2020 and the OIE Strategy on Antimicrobial Resistance and the Prudent Use of Antimicrobials. The study was conducted in two separate countries where farming and intensive food animal production are among the most important economic growth and development factors.

‘I investigated the carriage, risk factors, phenotypic and genotypic characteristics (resistance genes, virulence factors and mobile genetic elements) and clonal relatedness of circulating MRSA and ESBL-PE in pigs and humans in order to improve knowledge about risk factors associated with the emergence and spread of MRSA and ESBL-PE as well as their zoonotic transmission in the food chain in both Cameroon and South Africa,’ said Founou.

According to her, the importance of Cameroonian and South African food security is a regional issue. Her study revealed that LA-MRSA ST398 is already present in both Cameroon and South Africa and is probably underestimated in the absence of molecular epidemiological studies.

‘The high prevalence (more than 70%) of ESBL-PE in pigs in both countries as well as in humans in Cameroon highlights their active dissemination in the farm-to-plate continuum. The results generated serve as evidence of the threat of antibiotic resistance (ABR) for agricultural practitioners, policy makers, scientific communities and health policies regionally, and particularly in Cameroon and South Africa.’

She said her study provided the first report of the animal strain LA-MRSA in both Cameroon and South Africa and contributed new knowledge on the burden, risk factors and molecular epidemiology of LA-MRSA and ESBL-PE in both countries.

‘It further reveals gaps in the current state of knowledge about antibiotic use and ABR in food animals in Cameroon and South Africa, and suggests that the debate about ABR-related consequences in the farm-to-plate continuum is neglected and should be more seriously considered in these countries,’ said Founou.

She has produced a total of 11 journal articles as first author and co-authored 12 papers, some of which have been published while others are under review.

The couple are currently working in a clinical laboratory in Cameroon.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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Doctoral Students Graduated by School of Health Sciences’ Head

Doctoral Students Graduated by School of Health Sciences’ Head
Professor Mahmoud Soliman celebrates excellence with his PhD graduates.

‘The secret to success in my bio-computation and drug design laboratory is teamwork,’ said College of Health Sciences’ Dean and Head of the School for Health Sciences Professor Mahmoud Soliman after supervising the graduation of three of his students.

According to Soliman, the key foundation of his team is direct engagement to achieve the group’s purpose. ‘I believe students cannot be inspired if they don’t know what they’re working towards and have no explicit goals. The diversity within our group provides a balanced skillset, thus adding to sustainability of our programme,’ said Soliman.

Dr U Ndagi graduated with PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences for his study: Insight into Cancer Targets and Ligand Binding Landscape Using Bioinformatics and Integrated Molecular Modeling Tools.

Dr OA Arodola was awarded a PhD in Medical Sciences for his research on: The Dual of Cathepsin-D in Breast Cancer and HIV Neuropathogenesis.

Dr P Ramharack graduated with a PhD in Medical Sciences following a study titled: The In Silico Investigation of Pharmacological Targets of the Zika Virus: Insights into the Structural Characteristics of the NS5 and NS3 Proteins from Atomistic Molecular Simulations.

Soliman said: ‘In the academic environment, there are always hurdles to overcome, however, success hinges on core fundamentals that are put in place.’

With the help of his students and their hard work for three consecutive years, Soliman is now on the list of top published researchers in the College and in the Top 10 University-wide.

His research group comprises four postdoctoral fellows, 12 PhD students, 10 masters students and three research assistants.

‘The team is working together towards collective common goals: mutual capacity development and high impact research. Once you create this culture within any research environment, you will certainly be somewhere high,’ he said.

In 2017, the team’s research work was published in 32 high impact journals and in 120 publications over the past five years.

‘The support from UKZN and the diverse research initiatives and strategies to boost research and impact played a crucial role in achieving the above goals,’ said Soliman.

He said his wife, Dr Shaimaa Soliman, who also graduating with a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences, and their two sons, Adham (13) and Tameem (11), always support his endeavours.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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Bachelor of Nursing Graduate Wins UKZN Achievement Award

Bachelor of Nursing Graduate Wins UKZN Achievement Award
Ms Philile Mhlanga excelled in midwifery.

Bachelor of Nursing Graduate Ms Philile Mhlanga was awarded a certificate and trophy for Best Achievement, 4th Year Nursing: Midwifery-BN.

‘This is a surprise, the feeling is totally surreal,’ said Mhlangu. ‘I didn’t expect to be one of the top students. It feels great knowing that sleepless nights, hard work and consistency pay off in the end.

‘I am very thankful to God for blessing me with my wonderful family who supported and encouraged me all along the way. God has also been with me during the four years of this degree because with everything I commit myself to, I call upon God and seek his wisdom and guidance,’ she said.

Mhlanga hopes to grow in the health discipline. ‘I plan to come back after my community service and further my studies but most importantly I plan to wear that red gown soon. It has been my biggest motivation to work hard and focus at all times so that one day I get to wear it.’

She has this advice for students: ‘Hard work can only come from one person and that’s you. Some people are okay with an average pass but you must be determined and motivated to do better and achieve top marks.’

Mhlanga, who lives with her mother and six siblings in Adams Mission, south of Durban, matriculated in 2009 and got a bursary to study Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) at the FET Collage in KwaMkhutha. After obtaining her BPO diploma she got a learnership position at the Mediterranean Shipping Company, where she worked as a creditor’s clerk and also studied international trade.

She was later offered a permanent job there but declined and instead registered for a Nursing degree.

‘Declining the offer at MSC was a difficult decision as my family was financially dependent on me. Thankfully, through God’s grace, I managed to secure a bursary in my second year at UKZN and the money I had for the remainder of my varsity years was sufficient to see my family and I through.

‘I am a go-getter, a risk taker and ambitious - for me this is only the beginning.’

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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Scholar with Love for Community Work Graduates with Doctorate

Scholar with Love for Community Work Graduates with Doctorate
Dr Shaimaa Ahmed.

Dr Shaimaa Ahmed, who is passionate about working in community-based pharmacy settings, has been awarded a doctorate following her research into nanoparticles-based drug delivery systems.

The wife of the Dean of UKZN’s School of Health Sciences Professor Mahmoud Soliman, Ahmed’s PhD study resulted in five articles being published in high impact international journals - a huge accolade for a doctoral student during her years of study.

The study was titled: Molecular Modelling Approaches for the Design and Understanding of Structural Features of Novel Materials and Nano-Based Drug Delivery Systems to Address the Challenges in Antibacterial Therapy.

Nanoparticles-based drug delivery systems have become a promising strategy to overcome the serious limitations of conventional dosage forms.

Ahmed, who is originally from Egypt, said: ‘The conventional dosage forms of antibiotics, such as capsules and tablets, have serious limitations, namely low drug concentration at target sites, short half-life, side effects and the necessity of frequent doses. These factors might have implications for patient adherence and the emergence of drug resistance. In recent years, we have seen a rise in multi-drug resistant strains internationally due to antibiotics losing their efficacy.

‘About two million people have become infected with bacteria resistant to antibiotics, and at least 23 000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections,’ said Ahmed.

The applications of nano drug delivery is a strategic approach to improve managing patients with infectious diseases as well as antibiotic resistance. Nanotechnology offers many potential benefits to medical research by making pharmaceuticals more efficacious and by decreasing their adverse side-effects.

Ahmed’s supervisor, renowned nanotechnology expert in drug delivery systems, Professor Thiru Govender, congratulated her. ‘Shaimaa merged her molecular modelling skills with drug delivery research in our laboratory which led to the resultant high impact outcomes. The work she has undertaken has contributed to a molecular understanding of nano drug delivery systems and pharmaceutical materials against bacteria for guiding the development of new medicines.’

Words: MaryAnn Francis


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Award Winning Graduate Ready to Tackle New Challenges

Award Winning Graduate Ready to Tackle New Challenges
Ms Zamashezi Shezi.

Dentistry graduate Ms Zamashezi Shezi won the Best Student Restorative Dentistry prize at the College of Health Sciences Awards Ceremony.

Shezi dedicated her award and degree to her family, ‘My family has been incredibly supportive over the years and to know that the ultimate goal has been accomplished means everything to them.’

Shezi said the award was an honour and a reminder that working hard pays off. ‘I may return to UKZN for postgraduate studies but for now I am working on establishing myself in the corporate world.’

She advised students to be mindful of ‘the need to excel and produce exceptional results in their respective fields. Energy and time should equal prestige.’

She said it was imperative to be consistent and unrelenting, ‘You must visualise the ultimate goal and let that drive you and when that is accomplished, don’t forget about the people who helped you and supported you along your academic journey.’

Shezi, who completed her matric at Grosvenor Girls’ High School on the Bluff, is from a family of five, raised by a single mother and a grandfather.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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Optometry Graduate Plans to Open Own Franchise

Optometry Graduate Plans to Open Own Franchise
Optometrist, Ms Sohani Deonarain, graduates.

The Best Overall Final Year Optometry Student at UKZN, graduate Ms Sohani Deonarain, aims to open her own optometry franchise in South Africa and later expand it internationally.

‘I am happy my hard work paid off, bringing joy and pride to my family who motivated me right through the tough times. They are the reason I did so well,’ said Deonarain.

She was overjoyed with her “great result” as she now feels better equipped to give her patients the best possible treatment. It has also confirmed her belief that hard work pays huge dividends.

Deonarain’s future plans include starting her own optometry franchise and working to expand it nationally and, eventually, internationally. ‘Once the franchise is established, I would love to give back to the community and offer my services in the form of cost-free visual screenings and spectacles for the under-privileged.’

Her unfaltering faith in God and support of loved ones keeps Deonarain on the right path, motivating her to continue being the best she can be.

She advises those who are still studying to never lose faith in their capabilities: ‘Continue doing the best you can and you will see that the time and effort you put in will reflect in your results.’

Deonarain comes from a family of achievers. ‘My parents both have postgraduate degrees, while my brother obtained seven distinctions in his matric year (2017) and is currently a Pharmacy student at UKZN.’

Deonarain’s fervent love for animals and hope for a better, violence-free society led her to a vegan diet. Her diligence has also allowed her to excel outside her academic life, achieving KwaZulu-Natal colours in karate and going on to black belt status.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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Top Achiever Equipped for World of Work

Top Achiever Equipped for World of Work
Top Audiologist, Ms Nabeelah Desai, graduates.

Top of her class, a Bachelor’s degree in Audiology and the Susan M Swart Award for exceptional academic achievement – Ms Nabeelah Desai can be justly proud of her scholastic endeavours.

Now Desai plans to expand her knowledge and gain some experience by working as a Clinical Audiologist while considering postgraduate studies.

‘Working in a hospital environment among a team of healthcare professionals inspires me,’ said Desai. ‘Interacting with and constantly learning from professionals in various disciplines keeps me involved and focused on the main goal of good patient outcomes.’

What advice does she have for students striving for success? ‘Try not to focus on the percentages and count every mark as your self-worth. It’s easy to get caught up by judging yourself on paper. Find the passion for what you are studying and remind yourself of why you chose what you are doing. You’ll be happy with your results if you give your work your maximum effort, and that can only come from being enthusiastic.’  

Desai attended the Siraatul Haq Islamic School and Madressah in Estcourt, and the Maritzburg Muslim School for Girls, where she matriculated.

She has an elder brother, who is a UKZN alumnus, and a younger brother in matric. Both her parents are entrepreneurs.    

‘Completing my degree would have been a great deal more challenging without the help of my family, friends, lecturers, staff at the Audiology Department, and funding from the SANZAF/DH Moosa Willowton Oil Foundation.’

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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UKZN Lecturer’s Daughters Graduate Together

UKZN Lecturer’s Daughters Graduate Together
Sisters Shivani and Devanya Reddy with a passion in Health Sciences graduate together.

It was a day of great jubilation for UKZN senior lecturer Professor Shakila Singh when her two daughters were awarded postgraduate degrees at the same Graduation ceremony.

Ms Shivani Reddy graduated with a Master of Occupational Therapy degree while her sister, Devanya, received a Bachelor of Sports Science-Exercise Science (Honours) degree.

Shivani’s research was titled: Long Term Outpatient Therapy: Perspectives from Acquired Brain Injury Survivors, their Caregivers and the Therapy Team: A KZN Study.

The study focused on an NGO in KwaZulu-Natal which provides long-term outpatient care for individuals with acquired brain injuries who have challenges reintegrating into society. The aim was to create awareness around this type of care and the need for it.

Some of Shivani’s findings included the type of organisation in her study and the care given, provide a great deal of social support for individuals with acquired brain injuries, and allow them to participate in meaningful and constructive occupations which they may not have the opportunity to do in the outside world.

Meanwhile, Devanya’s study was titled: The Most Prevalent Injuries Amongst Male Junior High School Soccer Players Within Selected Schools in KwaZulu-Natal.

Devanya is currently doing her internship at The Sharks Academy as a strength and conditioning specialist, a personal trainer and also works as a brand coach for Adidas.

She is working towards completing her master’s degree part-time under the supervision of Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences (BELS) academic leader, Dr Rowena Naidoo, and Khulekani Dlamini.

Her master’s research involves examining the effects of implementing a high-jump training programme on the explosive power of specific positions in rugby.

‘I am grateful for the opportunity to study at an institution such as UKZN and I can proudly say that I studied something that I genuinely love and am passionate about. I am very privileged and grateful to have achieved what I have,’ Devanya said.

She thanked Shivani for using her as a life-sized anatomy dummy to study when she was in undergrad, ‘If it wasn’t for her, I probably wouldn’t have passed anatomy.

‘It was really helpful to have a sister who was in Health Science previously and who suffered through physiology and understood my pain. She was not only an emotional support system and my emotional punching bag, but also my personal tutor, mentor and role-model.’

‘I feel very proud and relieved at the same time to have accomplished this,’ said Shivani. ‘It was a long process with many ups and downs, but it was worth it. Our mother is a professor with many achievements, so we have big shoes to fill.’

Shivani is currently an Occupational Therapist at the Andiswa Gowa Practice, doing medicolegal work.

The sisters spoke highly of their family’s support, ‘Our family has always been very supportive of our studies and is very proud of everything we’ve achieved. My mom has been such a huge inspiration to our family with all her achievements, so the importance of education and the prestige of being an academic has been instilled in us from a very young age.’

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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Mother-Daughter Duo Graduate

Mother-Daughter Duo Graduate
Masters in Physiotherapy graduate, Ms Joan Pather, is congratulated by her daughter.

A mother and daughter shared pride in each other when they graduated together at UKZN.

Mrs Joan Pather received a Master’s degree in Physiotherapy while her daughter, Ms Esther Ophelia Pather, was awarded a BCom degree.

Joan, who is passionate about working among people living with disabilities, decided to undertake a Master’s in Physiotherapy degree in February last year. Her research explored the subject: Perceptions of Physiotherapists on Disability: Awareness and Health Promotion.

‘I worked tirelessly to complete my degree in a year,’ she said.

Esther completed BCom - General Degree at the College of Law and Management Studies, majoring in Marketing and Human Resource Management. She is currently pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing and Supply Chain Management.

Said Joan: ‘The lack of effective accommodation and integration of people living with disabilities in the community raises the need for rehabilitation professionals such as physiotherapists to deliver disability awareness programmes, with the aim being to reduce environmental and attitudinal barriers that exist in their communities.’

Her study found that it was essential to address barriers to disability awareness programmes and to advocate for disability issues that pose environmental and attitudinal barriers to access in all areas of society.

‘Access to healthcare is hindered by a lack of understanding and subsequent negative behaviour including the stigmatisation of people with disabilities,’ said Joan.

She said it was important for rehabilitation professionals to offer comprehensive and culturally sensitive disability awareness programmes to communities in order to influence attitudes and behaviour toward people with disabilities.

She is currently the Head of the Physiotherapy Department at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Phoenix.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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