Young Achiever Scoops Distinguished Student Award
Education and Development student Ms Natasha Moodaley is the winner of the UKZN Distinguished Student Award which recognises and rewards outstanding academic achievement and excellence in community engagement.
‘The award is the result of collaborative work with colleagues and a desire to change lives for the better,’ said Moodaley, who graduated summa cum laude with an Honours degree in education and development, which she believes is due to the collaborative learning approach used by UKZN lecturer Ms Jane Quin.
In terms of her contribution to the community, Moodaley is currently a fully involved member of the Young Professionals’ League (YPL) - an initiative she helped establish. The YPL is geared towards supporting students and learners in their studies and goals through the development of hard and soft skills.
‘The league was started by a group of friends who identified challenges they had faced trying to navigate and access higher education,’ said Moodaley. ‘Being the first in a family to attend a post high school institution, cultural differences, accessing technology and the pressures from your own family were among the common factors identified by the group.’
Moodaley and other YPL members work after hours arranging events as well as on Saturday mornings when they assist with a peer-to-peer learning programme and still find time to mentor young high school and university students.
‘And staff at Umvuzo High School near Pietermaritzburg have given us their full support in all our endeavours,’ she said.
‘There is a collective desire among YPL members to see change coupled with action. This is why the money from my award will be going solely to this cause. We will investigate ways in which the financial contribution will serve the people of the community best - I am very excited about that.’
Moodaley hopes that the Young Professionals’ League will grow into a movement across KwaZulu-Natal and the rest of South Africa.
She thanked her colleagues and friends, as well as educators and learners at Umvuzo High, and lecturers and students at TVET, DUT and UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus for their support and UKZN for giving her the award.
Words: Melissa Mungroo
Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal