Young Scholarship Winner Passionate about Protecting Environment

Young Scholarship Winner Passionate about Protecting Environment
Ms Ziphokuhle Manqele who received a Frene Ginwala Scholarship to study Chemical Engineering.

A passion for protecting the environment and finding ways to eradicate air pollution led Ms Ziphokuhle Manqele to study Chemical Engineering.

To help her on her way she was awarded a Frene Ginwala Scholarship at UZKN’s Awards evening.  This special prestige entrant equity award is made to top Black African women entering the University as new undergraduate students.

Manqele said she felt honoured, happy, and proud. ‘Above all, the award motivates me to perform well and work hard.’

She says she is really passionate about protecting the environment and finding ways of eradicating air pollution. What she loves about Chemical Engineering is that it looks at methods of processing raw materials without polluting the environment, which is a way of solving problems.

‘The biggest lesson I have learned is to believe in myself and never to lose respect for the people around me.’

Besides gaining her degree, Manqele’s dreams include owning a beauty parlour after graduation, having a family of her own and giving back to the community.

Her hobbies include writing poems and short stories, playing mind games and listening to music.

‘I’m an optimistic, strong-willed young woman who enjoys seeing people being happy.’

author : Basetsana Mogashoa
author email :

Computer Engineering Student Wins Scholarship for Second Consecutive Year

Computer Engineering Student Wins Scholarship for Second Consecutive Year
Mr Ben Sapo was awarded a College DVC Scholarship.

Third-year Computer Engineering student, Mr Ben Sapo, is once again among UKZN’s scholarship winners.

Sapo, who won a Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship last year, has once more been recognised for his achievements being awarded a College Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship this year. The award recognises top performance over two or more years of undergraduate study.

The scholarship has provided much needed relief from financial burdens accompanying tertiary education, allowing him to focus on his studies. 

‘Computers have always been a passion of mine so I always knew that I would go into the field,’ said Sapo.  ‘I specifically chose to do Computer Engineering because my brother did the degree and I saw the really cool projects he did, incorporating electronics with programming. This inspired me to follow him and do the same degree as I saw that I would be able to build and programme my own designs.’

Sapo has big plans for himself and intends to go into research and development in his field to assist in the betterment of the community.  He describes himself as a religious person who is very driven and determined and puts in all his effort to finish tasks.

In his spare time he enjoys playing soccer, reading and watching TED talks.

author : Prashina Budree
author email :

Scrumming Down Well Earns Young Woman Rugby Scholarship

Scrumming Down Well Earns Young Woman Rugby Scholarship
Ms Lindelwa Gwala (left) receiving her award from Ms Kelley Sloley.

Rugby scholarship holder Ms Lindelwa Gwala’s interest in the sport began while she was in Grade 9 at Umlazi Comtech, Durban.

With the encouragement of teachers and school friends she joined a women’s club rugby team and before long had been selected for the KwaZulu-Natal U16 team.

Gwala soon realised that rugby was her game and represented the U16 side for three consecutive years during which time she was called up for a South African Rugby Union (SARU) high performance camp.

She went on to play for the KZN U18 team and also made the SARU U20 squad.

‘Being part of the KZN team was a great experience and gave me a lot of opportunities,’ she said.

‘Who would have thought that playing rugby would assist me in securing a prestigious UKZN Sport Scholarship,’ said Gwala, who is currently doing her Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Computer Science.

She received the rugby scholarship for her outstanding achievements playing for the Sharks U18 side.

Gwala was constantly questioned by family and friends about why she wanted to play rugby. Her answer was: ‘I play rugby because it helps pay my fees. Most of all it makes me happy to know that my parents are not having sleepless nights over finding funds.

‘Currently, I am in the KZN senior team and though the competition is much tougher there, if there is anyone that knows hard work goes a long way it’s me.’

Her coach, Yandisa Mdolomba said: ‘Lindelwa is committed in everything she does. Her determination on the field is evident.

‘Her transition to university life has been challenging but she knows that hard work and perseverance are winners. She’s a very down to earth and friendly person. Being awarded the UKZN Sport’s scholarship is a testament to her hard work and dedication.’

author : Leena Rajpal
author email :

Double Scholarship Winner was a Sure Bet for Success

Double Scholarship Winner was a Sure Bet for Success
Zahra Essack was UKZN’s top Honours Student.

Earning Dean’s commendations in every year of her undergraduate study and then graduating summa cum laude meant it was little surprise when Ms Zahra Essack was announced as the winner of the Zac Yacoob and Maryam Babangida Scholarships.

The Maryam Babangida Scholarship acknowledged Essack as the best accomplished undergraduate female student advancing into Honours study in the entire University, while the Zac Yacoob Scholarship identified her as the single best Honours student across the University.

‘I am honoured and humbled to have my hard work and achievements throughout my undergraduate degree acknowledged by the award of these scholarships,’ said Essack.

‘I also feel privileged to represent women in a highly competitive, largely male-dominated area of science and technology.’

Essack was grateful to have worked with academics from the Schools of Chemistry and Physics, and Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science.

‘The dedicated academic staff took a personal interest in my progress and helped to develop my theoretical and practical skills. My time at UKZN has not only helped me grow academically but has helped to shape me into a confident and well-rounded individual,’ she said.

Director of the Physics Honours Programme, Professor Mark Tame, commented: ‘It is really great to hear that Zahra has received these prestigious scholarships which are well deserved. Zahra has been at the top of her class throughout her undergraduate studies and now also as an Honours student. She is talented and works hard and will flourish in her future studies at Master’s level and beyond. The School of Chemistry and Physics is delighted to have the top Honours student at the University.’

Course Co-ordinator at the Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit, Professor Kavilan Moodley, said: ‘Zahra has an outstanding academic record throughout her undergraduate and Honours degrees at UKZN. She is destined to be a high achiever in her postgraduate research career in astronomy and to have an extremely productive academic career thereafter. The success of excellent students like Zahra bodes well for the future of South African astronomy.’

Essack added: ‘I feel fortunate to be beginning my career at a time when curiosity and discovery driven science, like astrophysics, is valued as highly as utilitarian research.’

author : Leena Rajpal
author email :

Maths Boff Aims to Use Skills to Eradicate Infectious Diseases in Communities

Maths Boff Aims to Use Skills to Eradicate Infectious Diseases in Communities
Academic achiever Mr Cebelihle Zwane aims to become a Chartered Biostatistician.

From very early in his life, Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship holder Mr Cebelihle Zwane has had to face challenges such as the death of his father and the absence of his mother.

Fortunately, his cousin, Mr Sibonakaliso Innocent Sithole, took care of him. ‘My cousin’s love and sacrifices allowed me to devote the time and energy necessary to perform at my best and achieve academic excellence,’ said Zwane.

‘Growing up with him made me understand and appreciate the value of an education.’

Zwane matriculated at Umlazi Comtech in 2013 obtaining six distinctions and registered at UKZN to pursue a Bachelor of Science Degree (Mathematics stream).

Zwane sailed through the first and second year of studies earning four Dean’s Commendations. Within these two years, he achieved 14 distinctions and eight merit certificates.

These outstanding results earned him the College Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship which is awarded to three top-ranked undergraduates advancing from second year to proceeding years of study.

‘It is an honour and a privilege to be considered worthy of this scholarship which has provided me with much needed financial assistance, enabling me to focus on my studies this year,’ he said.

Currently Zwane is in his third year with Pure Mathematics and Statistics as his majors. ‘I was also voted the best second year Statistics student in South Africa,’ he said.

Lecturer in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, Mr Knowledge Chifurira, said: ‘Cebelihle is a well organised and hardworking student.  He sets high goals and achieves them. Even the sky is not a limit for this dedicated young man. I wish him well in all his studies.’

Senior Lecturer in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, Dr Paranjothi Pillay, said: ‘It was my pleasure and privilege to have taught Cebelihle Zwane in both his second and third years of study in Mathematics.  Cebelihle is a hardworking and dedicated student and this is borne out by the outstanding results he has obtained.  It is so pleasing to see him being recognised for his exceptional academic performance. I am sure he will do exceptionally well in any field that he pursues and will be an asset to anyone who employs him.’

Zwane’s main short-term goal is to graduate summa cum laude and to later qualify as a Chartered Biostatistician, working to eradicate infectious diseases in communities.

author : Leena Rajpal
author email :

Distinguished Student Nominee Hooked on Science

Distinguished Student Nominee Hooked on Science
Ms Carrie Jacobs in the laboratory.

Masters candidate in the School of Life Sciences, Ms Carrie Jacobs, has been nominated for UKZN’s prestigious Distinguished Student’s Award.

It is a unique award that considers nominations - from staff and students - of students who have made outstanding academic achievements as well as excelling in community engagement or University service.

Jacobs, who graduated with both her Bachelor of Medical Science and Bachelor of Science Honours degrees summa cum laude, is now pursuing her Masters in Microbiology, investigating the quorum-sensing inhibitory and anti-HIV potential of indigenous South African sponge-associated bacterial extracts.

Supervised by Dr Hafizah Cheniah, this research is suited to Jacobs’s interest in disease control, and her belief that the hunt for new and alternative treatment options should be at the forefront of bacterial and HIV research, especially given the current antimicrobial-resistance crisis.

Born in Gauteng, Jacobs has lived in Durban since the age of 8, attending Brettonwood High School in Umbilo where she was Head Girl, Dux, captain of the debate team and a member of the KZN Model United Nations debate team. She is the only pupil in the history of the school to be awarded honours twice.

Jacobs chose UKZN for tertiary studies because of its high research output and the reputation of the Microbiology Discipline as one of the best in the country.

At UKZN, Jacobs has received a slew of awards, including the Inqaba Biotech Award for the top Microbiology Honours Student of 2015, the Merck Award for top graduating Microbiology student 2014, as well as external awards such as the National Biennial South African Society for Microbiology (SASM) Conference 2016 award for the best Honours presentation; an award for the best Honours Presentation at the Provincial SASM conference 2015, and the 2014 annual Unilever Research and Development award.

She has been a member of the Golden Key Honour Society since 2013, and received Dean’s Commendations for every semester of her studies, in addition to her total of 17 merit certificates.

‘I consider this nomination momentous, and easily my greatest achievement,’ said Jacobs. ‘It’s a significant acknowledgement of the effort I have put into my studies. I have always tried to give my best, and to be acknowledged for this by an institution such as UKZN makes all the work put in well worthwhile.’

Once her Masters is complete, Jacobs aims to continue to PhD studies in the field of disease control at UKZN, where there is focus on anti-quorum sensing molecules derived from natural products.

After her PhD, Jacobs wants to do postdoctoral research and hopefully work with the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) examining the spread of disease, alternative treatment options and their effect when compared to currently used medicines.

author : Christine Cuénod
author email :

Frene Ginwala Scholarship a Life Changer for Chemical Engineering Student

Frene Ginwala Scholarship a Life Changer for Chemical Engineering Student
Ms Andile Mnguni received a Frene Ginwala Scholarship to study Chemical Engineering.

A Frene Ginwala Scholarship couldn’t have come at a better time for Chemical Engineering student Ms Andile Mnguni, who was struggling to pay first year registration fees at UKZN.

‘This scholarship has helped me with my fees - for which I am happy and extremely grateful - and has given me the confidence to dedicate myself to my studies.’

Mnguni, who said learning and seeing what climate change had done to the planet inspired her to explore the field of chemical engineering, hopes her studies will lead towards her finding environmentally friendly ways of eradicating pollution and saving the planet.

Mnguni encouraged fellow students to be self-motivated and the kind of person young folk could look up to.

In her spare time, nature-lover Mnguni enjoys playing chess and basketball.

The Frene Ginwala Scholarship is a special prestige entrant equity award made to top Black African female entrants arriving at the University as new undergraduate students.

author : Basetsana Mogashoa
author email :

Computer Science Student Receives Abe Bailey Travel Bursary

Computer Science Student Receives Abe Bailey Travel Bursary
Mr Sivashen Reddy (left) with Professor Salim Abdool Karim.

Third year student in Computer Science, Mr Sivashen Reddy, has secured the Abe Bailey Travel Bursary, enabling him to travel to the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the United Kingdom in November, where tours of institutions and networking with fellow students and academics will add depth to his skills and experience.

Only 18 students from 24 universities were selected through the challenging application process.

‘I am really happy to be going on this trip and I look forward to interacting with the diverse cultures and traditions in the various countries we will visit,’ said Reddy.

Reddy was recognised by the Abe Bailey Trust for his leadership qualities, and his strong service ethic. He is Vice-President of the Golden Key Society on the Westville campus, and received the society’s New Chapter award in 2015.

He has also gained recognition at UKZN, receiving three Dean’s Commendations, being named as one of the university’s top 40 most inspiring students last year, and receiving entrance and merit scholarships from the University.

Outside the university, he tutors Grade 10 students in mathematics.

According to Reddy, receiving the bursary is an acknowledgement of the 100% effort he puts into his studies.

Reddy attended Kharwastan Secondary School in Durban where he regularly came top in various subjects. It was at high school while investigating information technology that he discovered his passion.

‘I was always attracted to how things work, and the amazing graphics and development of games fascinated me. Computer Science is also full of visions for the future; the world is evolving through technology!’

Reddy says his passion for his subject is an ever-growing one, and he anticipates a future of artificial intelligence-aided, programmed robots fulfilling tasks.

Reddy aims to do his Honours degree in Computer Science, and thereafter join a graduate programme in an international information technology company.

He also has a strong creative side and plans to publish his own book in the adventure fiction genre. He finds writing an ideal channel for self-expression, and fills his spare time putting his thoughts to paper.

Reddy dedicated his achievement to his grandmother, Angie, who sadly passed away the day after he received news of the bursary.

He also credited his family for their support and thanked the Abe Bailey Trust for the life-changing opportunity.

author : Christine Cuénod
author email :

Father’s Passion for Civil Engineering Fuels Son’s Academic Ambitions

Father’s Passion for Civil Engineering Fuels Son’s Academic Ambitions
Second-year Civil Engineering student, <br>Mr Sanav Singh.

A father’s passion for Civil Engineering rubbed off on his son who is now excelling in the discipline at UKZN.

Mr Sanav Singh, a second-year Civil Engineering student who says he followed in his father’s footsteps when choosing a degree, has now been awarded a Malegapuru W Makgoba Scholarship presented to the five-top-ranked undergraduates proceeding from first year to second year in each of the four Colleges.

Success seems to come naturally to this hard worker who was one of the top KZN matriculants in 2014, winning him the Pius Langa Scholarship.

Singh’s father, a Civil Engineer, serves as his role model.  ‘I enjoy mathematics and science and am passionate about the practical side of life,’ said Singh. ‘My passion continues to grow, especially in areas covered by the Civil Engineering degree.  It was an easy choice to begin this career path.’

Singh, who hopes one day to take over his father’s business, enjoys dancing and soccer and describes himself as a dedicated and committed individual who aims to give his best in all aspects of his life.

author : Prashina Budree
author email :

Master’s Student Delighted with TB Davis Scholarship

Master’s Student Delighted with TB Davis Scholarship
Mr Semeshan Naidoo received a <br>TB Davis Scholarship for postgraduate study in Engineering.

Mr Semeshan Naidoo has always been fond of engineering graphics and design – a passion he and his father proudly share.

This dedication to the discipline played a role in Naidoo - doing the first year of a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering - being awarded a TB Davis Scholarship.

The scholarship was created after the family of TB Davis entrusted the University with a donation to provide awards for top postgraduate students in the School of Engineering.

‘I am very happy that my hard work is starting to pay off,’ said Naidoo, who hopes to one day be as inspirational as his father and inherit his values, traits and the ability to overcome difficulty. ‘What makes my father an exceptional human being is his humility.’

Naidoo is excited about gaining experience and applying his knowledge and expertise in the workplace once he has finished his masters.

‘It is important to work in the field in order to learn continuously, absorb and give back to the community,’ he said.

In his spare time Naidoo enjoys martial arts, which he has been doing since the age of five.

He also enjoys watching cartoons and movies, describing himself as a Japanese cartoon fanatic.

‘Above all, I am a hardworking individual who enjoys challenges and making people laugh,’ said Naidoo.

author : Basetsana Mogashoa
author email :

Outstanding Engineering Students Land Pius Langa Scholarships

Outstanding Engineering Students Land Pius Langa Scholarships
First-year Engineering students and Pius Langa Scholarship winners, Mr Nikyle Bisseru (left) and Mr Thesan Appalsamy.

UKZN prides itself on the number of outstanding matriculants it attracts each year and 2016 has been no exception.

Two bright young matriculants, Mr Nikyle Bisseru and Mr Thesan Appalsamy, were each awarded a Pius Langa Scholarship for being ranked in the top 10 of the 2015 KZN Provincial Education Department NSC examinations.

Bisseru matriculated from Durban High School in 2015 with a flush of As.  The recipient of UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science Top Maths and Science award while at school, Bisseru is presently completing his first year in the Mechanical Engineering Discipline. 

When it came to choosing a career, Bisseru had many options but engineering always appealed to him.  ‘I always had an aptitude for engineering and machinery in modern industry,’ he said. ‘Engineers are risk takers and problem solvers in our world and I want to be someone who can impact the world in a positive way.’

Former Greenbury Secondary School pupil Thesan Appalsamy - now a first-year Chemical Engineering student at UKZN - is equally proud of his scholarship. 

Appalsamy’s success stemmed from his high school career where he was placed 4th in the Pinetown District as well as 4th overall in KZN in his matric year. Some of his outstanding results included 94% for both English and Afrikaans, 96% for Maths and 97% for Physics. 

Appalsamy’s role models include former UKZN Astrophysicist Dr Megan Govender (Dr G) and Chemistry Lecturer Mr Ajay Bissessur.  ‘Dr G ignited a passion for science in me at the tender age of seven when I attended his science classes,’ Appalsamy said. ‘He always encouraged me to be inquisitive and to discover more.’ 

‘I took my interests to science fairs where I met Mr Bissessur who was always willing to help me with my projects,’ said Appalsamy.

author : Prashina Budree
author email :

Perseverance Wins the Day – and a Scholarship – for Student

Perseverance Wins the Day – and a Scholarship – for Student
Ms Stuart Demmer at UKZN’s Ukulinga Research Farm.

Recipient of the College Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship and a budding rangeland ecologist, Mr Stuart Demmer, says the acknowledgement of his study perseverance is an honour and he is humbled by the recognition from an institution so full of bright, deserving scholars.

The Hillcrest High School old boy is studying for a Bachelor of Science Degree, majoring in Ecology, with Animal Science modules to bring depth to his agricultural and ecological interests.

This academic path was inspired by his cattle farmer grandfather and also by high school teachers who ignited an appreciation of biology and physical science, encouraging students to gain practical experience in these fields.

‘Looking at the ways plants and animals interact with one another is one of the most fascinating things to study,’ said Demmer.

His love for the outdoors - he is a keen hiker and camper - has served him well in his studies as has his approach of challenging himself at university to improve, rather than to simply achieve recognition. This has led to his excellent performance over the first two years of his degree, which the scholarship recognises.

The award provides his family with much-appreciated financial relief and has encouraged him to pursue excellence in his field.

Demmer aims to continue his studies to master’s level. Potential areas in which he will expand his expertise include rangeland ecology and the conservation and restoration of degraded land.

‘This is an area I feel is incredibly important to ensure the sustainability of our country’s rangelands,’ he said.

After completing his studies, Demmer hopes to make the most of the myriad opportunities available to ecologists, aiming to carve out a career as an extension officer, or an environmental consultant focused on maintaining the biodiversity of South Africa’s rangelands. He also dreams of building up his own cattle or game farm.

author : Christine Cuénod
author email :

Aspirant Mechanical Engineer Wins Scholarship

Aspirant Mechanical Engineer Wins Scholarship
Mr Daniel Kirkman was ranked among the top five first-year students in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.

Home-schooled Mr Daniel Kirkman is well on his way to earning his academic spurs – he has been awarded the Malegapuru W Makgoba Scholarship for being ranked among the top five undergraduates proceeding from first year to second year in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.

Kirkman, who is very grateful for the financial assistance the scholarship provides, is focused on his academic career.  ‘I have always enjoyed practical projects as well as academics, particularly Science and Maths.  Engineering provides a good combination of these aspects,’ he said. 

Kirkman wants to use his degree to assist disabled people as he has a great interest in the field of prosthetics. 

Whilst Kirkman does not have a specific role model, he admires people who do everything to the best of their ability and with a good attitude.  ‘I am hard working and always do my best. I like to live life to the fullest.’

In his spare time Kirkman enjoys being outdoors and doing the sport of rock climbing.

author : Prashina Budree
author email :

Scholarship allows Top Student to Pursue PhD in Mechatronics

Scholarship allows Top Student to Pursue PhD in Mechatronics
Mr Nicol Naidoo received a UKZN Doctoral Research Scholarship.

It’s reserved for UKZN’s top PhD candidates and Mr Nicol Naidoo - in the second year of doctoral studies in Mechatronics - was selected for it!

It is a UKZN Doctoral Research Scholarship which Naidoo says he feels blessed and privileged to have received. ‘I am proud to be a part of a university that is committed to research excellence.’

He is confident the award will give him the opportunity to learn more about robotics and computer engineering.

Naidoo has always had a flair and passion for mathematics, physical science and computer programming, and the field of engineering came naturally to him. ‘I enjoy solving challenging problems and feel inspired to do more research and to develop a practical product from that research,’ he said.

A religious man, he says he’s inspired by Jesus Christ every day. ‘This is one factor that drives me to complete my PhD and start contributing to the development of the next generation of young engineers.’

Naidoo plans to engage with pupils from primary and secondary schools to help nurture their talent from a young age.

He regards himself as an honest individual who strives for excellence and is willing to accept corrections. ‘I am not intimidated by problems because I always work on the solution,’ he said.

Naidoo enjoys travelling, exploring and experiencing different cultures, food and landscapes.

author : Basetsana Mogashoa
author email :

Mandela-Rhodes Scholarship Winner Wants to Work for the Benefit of Women

Mandela-Rhodes Scholarship Winner Wants to Work for the Benefit of Women
Ms Pilela Majokweni in the field interviewing a farmer in Msinga.

UKZN master’s student, Ms Pilela Majokweni, plans to use the opportunities provided through her Mandela-Rhodes Scholarship to contribute to the empowerment and education of women in Africa, particularly female small-holder farmers and children.

Majokweni, who is studying Agricultural Economics in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES), is originally from the Eastern Cape where she completed her schooling at Phandulwazi Agricultural High School in Alice, being named Scholar of the Year.

She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Fort Hare (UFH) but chose UKZN for postgraduate studies because of its strong ratings in agricultural research.

Her master’s research, supervised by Dr Lloyd Baiyegunhi and Dr Stuart Ferrer, is an impact assessment of institutional support on household agricultural productivity with her research focused on small-scale growers in the rural Msinga area of KwaZulu-Natal.

Majokweni is among just 50 students - there were more than 5 000 applicants - from around Africa who received this scholarship. The application process is demanding and rewards those with proven exceptional leadership abilities and academic excellence, aiming to contribute towards the prosperity of their continent.

Majokweni views the accolade not only as an honour but also as a bestowal of a commitment to Africa.

She has not only been focusing on research but has also been working to establish a branch of the United Nations-affiliated Junior Chamber International (JCI) at UKZN, which is expected to launch soon. A pilot project of this group is to work with a Pietermaritzburg school to launch a Junior Apprentice Inspire Foundation Group in Africa - something which is already operating in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng - to help curb youth unemployment by exposing young people to investors and opportunities.

This year, Majokweni also represented UKZN at Wits as a member of the Chief Adjudication Panel at an open debate competition, Jozi Rumble. She also took part in the Student Case Competition at the annual Agbiz Congress.

Majokweni shows no signs of slowing down in achieving her goals, and as one of five daughters of a single mother, is particularly passionate about female development, and about instilling a sense of worth and confidence in young girls through education and extramural activities.

‘I believe that agriculture and empowering women are very strong vehicles in developing Africa, and I want to use my life making a change in those areas.’

author : Christine Cuénod
author email :

Talent Equity and Excellence Scholarship Winners all High Achievers

Talent Equity and Excellence Scholarship Winners all High Achievers
From left: Ms Ntombifuthi Nzimande, Ms Sibusiswangaye Mdluli, Mr Mthokozisi Mdalose, Ms Wendy Geza and Mr Manqoba Zungu.

Recipients of this year’s Talent Equity and Excellence Scholarships come from diverse academic backgrounds - from Agriculture to Astronomy - but have set themselves apart as high achievers and driven young leaders.  They are: Ms Ntombifuthi Nzimande, Ms Sibusiswangaye Mdluli, Mr Mthokozisi Mdalose, Ms Wendy Geza and Mr Manqoba Zungu.

Ms Wendy Geza, originally from Bizana in the Eastern Cape, is in Agricultural Extension and Rural Resource Management (AERRM), where she is doing her honours degree and hopes to continue to do a PhD. She ultimately wants to become an academic.

‘I’m excited and scared at the same time about this scholarship, because it requires one to step up, but it’s a great opportunity,’ said Geza.

She has also enlisted mentorship from academics in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) to help her advance her career.

Schooled in Port Shepstone, Geza is the first member of her family to continue to honours studies, and she says she is excited to prove to her younger brothers and sisters that she can go all the way in her chosen career in agriculture. 

Her honours research involves assessing the contribution of young women to household food security.  This was inspired by seeing young girls around her drop out of school but still somehow contribute to their households.

Geza says she is continually discovering new things, and was attracted to a career in agriculture after studying it briefly in high school. Studying in the Discipline of AERRM allowed Geza the experience of going into the community, which she says teaches one as much about oneself as it does about communities.

She has won praise from her supervisors and lecturers throughout her career and was the recipient of the Kwanalu Floating Trophy for the Top Bachelor of Agriculture (AERRM) Undergraduate Student for 2015. She is now undertaking a three-month internship with the Farmer Support Group at UKZN which gives her the opportunity to interact with farmers in rural communities.

Ms Sibysuswangaye Mdluli, involved in Plant Breeding in SAEES, is originally from KwaMsane in Mtubatuba where she completed her schooling career. Mdluli is undertaking her Master’s on the topic of genetic characterisation of wheat for drought tolerance.

She says her affection for the Discipline of Plant Breeding stems from her belief that the ability to create new cultivars is enormously beneficial to society.  She hopes to continue to do PhD research with the aim of creating a drought-tolerant cultivar, and plans to carve out a career in academia as a lecturer and researcher, passing on the knowledge she has gained to the next generation of plant breeders. All of this will be made more achievable through the scholarship. 

‘I am very grateful and humbled by this opportunity,’ said Mdluli. ‘This scholarship will help me to achieve my goals, inspire others to work towards their dreams and assist me in contributing positively to society.’

Mr Mthokozisi Mdalose, a master’s candidate in the Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU), says the scholarship will help him achieve his dreams of becoming a lecturer and researcher.

Mdlalose of Pietermaritzburg matriculated at Sukuma Comprehensive School where he excelled in Mathematics and Physical Science. He describes his background as a previously disadvantaged one, saying the scholarship will enable him to follow his academic ambitions and relieve financial burdens.

Fascinated by the unknowns of the universe, its governing principles and how stars and galaxies were created, he was awarded an SKA bursary in 2012 through ACRU, and this, he says, exposed him to the future of astronomy in South Africa. ACRU has afforded him opportunities for mentorship from academics such as Professor Kavilan Moodley, Dr Caroline Zunckel and Professor Jonathan Sievers.

Mdlalose says he enjoys astronomy because it interfaces with so many other fields including engineering and computer science and its skills are in demand from the private sector and government institutions. It has also afforded him the chance to explore the mysteries of the universe as well as travel to different places.

Mdlalose recently attended a Summer School Programme at the University of Toronto in Canada, working with Professor Keith Vanderlinde on redundant calibration pipeline, which was facilitated by his supervisor, Professor Jonathan Sievers.

Mdlalose is undertaking his masters research on the topic of a quasi-redundant calibration pipeline for the upcoming 21 cm telescopes such as the HIRAX radio telescope, the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA), CHIME, and SKA radio telescope.

He hopes to continue to do his PhD on the 21 cm calibration analysis and do work on pulsars and dark energy.

Thereafter, he plans to pursue post-doctoral research, and perhaps a second degree in African studies, specifically the science of Southern African people during the pre-colonial and colonial eras.

PhD candidate in the School of Life Science, Mr Manqoba Moses Zungu of Wartburg, is involved in investigating the impact of habitat fragmentation on forest-dependent mammal occupancy in the eThekwini Municipal region - an area that has received relatively little research attention in its urban areas.

‘Ever since I was young, I have been fascinated by the natural world, which is understandable considering my rural upbringing,’ said Zungu. ‘That childish fascination with nature has not left me but deepened over the years. This interest has led me to my love for biology, ecology and the environment.

‘What drives me the most in doing this type of work is a moral obligation we have as conservation biologists,’ said Zungu, who is passionate about contributing towards the betterment of the planet for current and especially future generations.

Zungu completed his Bachelor of Science Honours in Ecological Sciences and Master of Science in Ecology at UKZN, receiving considerable recognition for his academic prowess, including certificates of merit for 13 modules as well as  three Dean’s Commendations and the Bayer Prize for the Best Third-Year Student in Plant Ecology, the Grassland Society of Southern Africa Medal for the Student with the Best Average Mark at Third-Year level, the Kathleen Gordon-Gray Prize for the Best Third-Year Student in Plant Systematics, and the Olaf Wirminghaus Prize for the Best Third-Year Student in Behavioural Ecology. He is also a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society.

‘I feel very privileged to have obtained this scholarship which will allow me to pursue my dreams of becoming a conservation biologist, with a PhD as an important entry point into solving environmental problems and preserving the natural world for future generations.’

Zungu says he has been able to wake up each morning knowing he is doing what he loves, and that he is making a difference in preserving South Africa’s natural heritage. He plans to go on to a post-doctoral fellowship to improve his skills and gain experience, and thereafter take up a career in academia.

Ms Ntombifuthi Precious Nzimande is studying for her Honours degree in Geography and Environmental Management on the Pietermaritzburg Campus. 

author : Christine Cuénod
author email :

Scholarship Winner Aims to Follow in Footsteps of Frene Ginwala

Scholarship Winner Aims to Follow in Footsteps of Frene Ginwala
Ms Neliswa Mbatha is studying Applied Chemistry thanks to a Frene Ginwala Scholarship.

Frene Ginwala entrance scholarship winner, Ms Neliswa Mbatha, hopes she is able to make an impact in her community, similar to what Ginwala did.

Mbatha, who matriculated at Queensburgh High School last year, is now working hard towards a BSc in Applied Chemistry.

‘I feel really honoured to receive such a prestigious award and am grateful for the excellent position it puts me in.  I am part of a field that is very competitive with only a handful of women in it.’ 

Mbatha chose to study Applied Chemistry because she feels it is a course that challenges her and feeds her curious mind.

‘My father is my role model because he has always been very supportive and has helped me become the driven young person I am,’ said Mbatha.

She sees herself as someone who is consistently growing and taking time to continue learning.  ‘I am an optimistic yet realistic person. I try not to dwell on anything that is negative because it’s better to focus on finding solutions to problems.

In her spare time Mbatha enjoys reading and plays netball to keep fit.

author : Basetsana Mogashoa
author email :

High Flyer Wants to Help Save the Planet!

High Flyer Wants to Help Save the Planet!
Ms Reitshepetse Kgomotlokwa Mphahlele is passionate about Bioresources Engineering.

A desire to help “save the world” is a strong motivating factor for Frene Ginwala Prestige Entry Equity Scholarship winner, Ms Reitshepetse Kgomotlokwa Mphahlele, who says the award will assist her in her chosen field of study - Bioresources Engineering.

‘I feel honoured and thank the University for trusting me with this empowering opportunity,’ said Mphahlele.

‘Engineering is a growing and challenging field which is very useful. I want to be part of a team that innovates and finds ground-breaking solutions for the future.’

A concern for planet Earth is a factor motivating Mphahlele to finish her degree and specialise.  ‘I would like to find high-performing solutions for the benefit of the country.’

Mphahlele says Nelson Mandela is her role model.  ‘His journey proved there are no short cuts in life and that perseverance really pays. I believe this is what inspires me to have patience and to be a hard worker, with a forgiving heart.’

Mphahlele enjoys spending her time in the kitchen, gardening and exploring art when she’s not studying. She describes herself as a humble person who has a skill for listening.

‘I am passionate about solving water shortages, which is a problem affecting many South Africans on a daily basis.’ 

author : Basetsana Mogashoa
author email :

No Fence Sitting for this Bright Spark Sportswoman

No Fence Sitting for this Bright Spark Sportswoman
Nicolette Ramshaw at the 2016 South African Fencing Senior Nationals.

En garde! Biological Sciences Honours student, Ms Nicolette Paige Ramshaw, has serious fencing skills to add to her academic prowess.

Ramshaw won a UKZN Sports Scholarship for her achievements in the sport of fencing in which she has represented South Africa.

She only took up fencing in 2014 having been involved at school in a variety of sports including swimming, horse riding, running and shooting. These diverse interests led her to modern pentathlon, which includes fencing.

Ramshaw, who was given a Dean’s Commendation in 2014, competed in her first Modern Pentathlon event last year and also took part in the 2015 Epee Fencing World Cup held in Johannesburg.

‘The UKZN Sports scholarship will help me tremendously in terms of achieving my sporting hopes and dreams while also allowing me to continue with my important academic studies,’ she said.

‘Without the UKZN Fencing club I would not have been able to begin my modern pentathlon career or fencing.’

Ramshaw completed her Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree within three years proving that she was able to maintain a balance between sport and academics.

She registered for an Honours degree in Biological Sciences this year and although sport took up increasing amounts of her time, she was still able to earn herself two distinctions.

Nicolette’s 2016 highlights included participating in the South African Fencing Senior Nationals where she was placed third winning a bronze medal in the Women’s Epee event. 

Her delighted mother, Mrs Pam Ramshaw, said: ‘I am very proud that Nicci has managed to balance her sport and academics, maintaining a high standard in both.’

Senior Lecturer in the  School of Life Sciences, Dr Dalene Vosloo, said: ‘Currently Nicci is doing her honours project in the area of Fluctuating Asymmetry in Bats Foraging at Wastewater Treatment Works under the supervision of myself and Professor Corrie Schoeman.  As her supervisor, I am proud of her achievements. She is a good student who really tries her best to balance her studies and sport, something which must be a challenge at the level she competes at.’

Professor Corrie Schoeman of the School of Life Sciences said: ‘I am thrilled that Nicci received the UKZN Prestige Sports award. She demonstrates that sports participation and academic success are not mutually exclusive. The timing of the award is auspicious given her sport of choice is competitive fencing, one of only five activities that have featured in every modern Olympic Games.’

author : Leena Rajpal
author email :

Plain Sailing for Life Sciences Student

Plain Sailing for Life Sciences Student
Mr Rudi Fokkens and Dr Sean Fennesy blasting in to the finish at the Hobie 16 Provincial Champs.

Indications are that second-year Life Sciences student Mr Rudi Fokkens will literally sail through his studies!

This prediction is reinforced by UKZN awarding Fokkens a Prestigious Sport Scholarship in response to him receiving KwaZulu-Natal colours for sailing.

‘My passion for sailing ignited my love for the sea and an interest in nature led me choosing to study biological sciences mixed with marine modules. One cannot sail in the company of dolphins, turtles and sharks without questioning what goes on beneath the swells.

‘This scholarship means I can travel to regattas country wide, gaining experience racing in a variety of conditions against the best sailors in South Africa. In addition, the extra money will be very useful as boats, travelling, membership fees and specialised parts are expensive.  Boat maintenance and regular practice are key to achieving consistently good results.’

Fokken’s short-term goal is to spend more time on the water by competing in the various provincial and national championships as well as in University Sports South Africa (USSA) yachting events.

‘Participating in these events allows me to gain more experience, refine my techniques and learn from the world champions South Africa has produced in Hobie catamaran racing.

Within the next five years, Fokken’s ambition is to represent UKZN and South Africa at the Hobie World Championships and regularly participate in international events such as the Lake Malawi marathon and the Tanzacat regatta.

‘As a member of the UKZN Yacht Club committee, I have been inspired by the new generation of student sailors who participated in the recent Inter-Varsity champs.’

His mother, Mrs Janine Fokkens, said: ‘Rudi is a keen and diligent sailor who gives 100 % when competing as well as mentoring and training young and less experienced sailors. The scholarship has given him the added incentive to apply himself, not only to his studies and excel, but to focus on his sailing and prove his worth as a member of the UKZN sailing team.’

Commodore of the UKZN Yacht Club Florence Marshall said: ‘Rudi is a hardworking and diligent sailor. He has been a great asset to the UKZN sailing team and is always keen to sail. This scholarship gives him the chance to focus more on sailing, improving his skills and passing on his knowledge to new students.’

Mentor and previous KZN Hobie Chairman Dr Sean Fennesy said: ‘Rudi continues to mature as a sailor, and has continued his participation and competition in one of the largest and most competitive sailing fleets in the country, which includes several previous world champions. While in the process of gaining more experience, he has also offered advice and help to younger sailors. His exposure to sailing is standing him in good stead in his career development as the sport requires technical and thinking skills as well as imposing physical demands.’

author : Leena Rajpal
author email :

Dream of Studying Cosmology Drives Scholarship Winner

Dream of Studying Cosmology Drives Scholarship Winner
Mr Dhaneshwar Dalian Sunder with UKZN Vice-Chancellor Dr Albert van Jaarsveld.

The goal of studying Cosmology has been brought a step closer for young student, Mr Dhaneshwar Dalian Sunder, through the Malegapuru W Makgoba Scholarship he was awarded for being a top-ranked undergraduate.

Sunder’s interest in Mathematics was sparked during his formative years at Parsee Rustomjee Primary School where his aptitude for the subject resulted in his parents transferring him to Star College. ‘It was at Star College that my ability in Maths developed further,’ he said.

Sunder took part in a variety of Maths competitions and Olympiads before matriculating from Star College with a 91% aggregate!

Professor Poobhalan Pillay, an Emeritus Professor in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science at UKZN said: ‘Dalian Sunder is an exceptional student who has great potential. I knew him when he was at Star College as he used to attend my Maths classes for bright learners. He was placed amongst the top 10 in Mathematics Olympiads more than once and was one of six students who represented South Africa at the International Mathematics Olympiad, winning a bronze medal.’

Sunder, who excelled in his first year of studies for his Bachelor of Science degree, receiving Dean’s Commendation awards for both semesters, thanked the University for awarding him a scholarship that will allow him to pursue his dreams of studying Cosmology.

Senior Lecturer in the Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit, Dr Matt Hilton said: ‘Dalian has made a great start to his studies at UKZN. From teaching him in second year astronomy, I have seen first-hand that he is both talented and hard working. I'm very happy he has won this award, and wish him all the best in his future studies.’

Sunder acknowledged God for blessing him with the ability to excel in Mathematics. ‘I am also fortunate my parents gave me the opportunity to pursue a research area I am passionate about,’ he said.

Dalian had this advice for other students: ‘Live as if you always have something to prove. Apply this to your studies, as it’s a recipe for greatness. I believe we should always be learning, so let knowledge be your armour in this battle we call life.’    

author : Leena Rajpal
author email :

Engineering Masters Student awarded TB Davis Scholarship

Engineering Masters Student awarded TB Davis Scholarship
TB Davis scholarship winner, Mr Suleiman Patel.

Mr Sulaiman Patel has been awarded a TB Davis Scholarship for being one of the top masters students in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.

The family of TB Davis gave UKZN funds to establish a trust from which awards are made annually to high achieving students in the School of Engineering.

Patel, who described studying for an Engineering degree as a ‘long and arduous road,’ plans to go on to do postgraduate studies in Electronic Engineering.

He says being awarded the Scholarship was a humbling experience and a source of motivation for the journey ahead. 

Patel, whose focus is on science and technology, wants to make a difference in the world and feels engineering is where he will be able to do that.

‘I have many role models but the one who really stands out is my grandfather, who embodies mental and emotional strength. Despite challenges he’s had to overcome, such as cancer, he always has a smile on his face and enjoys getting involved in community upliftment projects.’ 

Patel’s master’s degree project is on wireless communication technologies and he is currently conducting research in that field with ARMSCOR. ‘Hopefully, this research will improve future surveillance and security systems and will help make South Africa a safer place for everyone. I also have a few ideas for entrepreneurial ventures that I may pursue later,’ he said.

Patel is an avid reader and enjoys indoor cricket in his spare time.

‘The values I hold dearest are integrity, respect and humility, which I hope are reflected in my character. I consider myself to have fairly old-fashioned principles, which are guided by my religious values.’

author : Prashina Budree
author email :

Sudanese Scholarship Winner Researching Fluid Dynamics

Sudanese Scholarship Winner Researching Fluid Dynamics
Mr Nageeb Abdallah Hamed Haroun explaining his research.

Not that many students focus on fluid dynamics - but this is the subject which Sudanese citizen Mr Nageeb Abdallah Hamed Haroun has chosen for his PhD research.

And, most important, it has won him a Doctoral Research Scholarship from UKZN.

Based in the Discipline of Mathematics, Haroun is originally from Zalinge in the Republic of Sudan, where he received his Bachelor of Science Degree from Omdurman Islamic University, going on to begin his Master’s in Pure Mathematics at the Sudan University of Science and Technology.

He joined UKZN as a master’s candidate in 2013, completing the degree in 2014.

Haroun’s PhD research is concerned with convective heat and mass transfer in boundary layer flow through a porous medium saturated with nanofluids. He started research into fluid dynamics because of its offering of the combination of mathematics and physics, and its range of applications.

‘Fluid dynamics provides methods for studying ocean currents, weather patterns, plate tectonics, evolution of stars, water flow and even blood circulation, as well as some important technological applications in industrial revolutions, including rocket engines, wind turbines, oil pipelines and air conditioning systems,’ said Haroun.

He says the award will have a significant impact on his studies, giving him what he called a glimmer of hope as he believes it will open doors for him.

‘An award like this is about much more than financial aid,’ said Haroun. ‘It enables me to continue pursuing my academic goals and demonstrates trust and confidence in the ability of the recipient.’

Haroun aims to continue working towards being a respected researcher and hopes to make a considerable impact in his field.

He thanked UKZN and staff in the Mathematics Discipline for giving him the opportunity to study and realise his goals and dreams.

He advised other students to keep focused on their studies, and not to give up doing their best.

author : Christine Cuénod
author email :

Gooooal! Soccer Skills Win Student Sports Scholarship

Gooooal! Soccer Skills Win Student  Sports Scholarship
Mr Ziyanda Ndlovu (front) with his fellow UKZN soccer team mates.

UKZN student Mr Ziyanda Goodenough Ndlovu’s love for soccer began at a very young age and his talent for the sport started manifesting itself when he was in Grade 4, playing for his school’s team.

In Grade 6, he joined the Izichwe soccer club where he met up with coach, Mr Thabo Dladla.

Ndlovu went on to play for the Alexander High School soccer team, competing in many tournaments.

Last year he was selected for the KZN U19 soccer squad which resulted in him being awarded a UKZN Sports Scholarship.

Ndlovu registered for a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree this year with majors in Hydrology and Soil Science.

‘This scholarship has been a blessing. It has given me the opportunity to follow my dream of playing soccer for the UKZN team and to undertake a BSc degree,’ said Ndlovu, who hopes one day to captain the UKZN team in the Varsity Cup tournament.

Coach Dladla said: ‘I have coached Ziyanda for the past seven years and have found him to be a level-headed young man who is mature beyond his age. He never misses training and still manages to perform well academically.’

His father, Colin Ndlovu said: ‘Ziyanda has been playing soccer since the age of four. We nicknamed him “Steve” after the great Orlando Pirates player Steve Lekoelea. Ziyanda has always shown commitment and dedication. I am extremely grateful that the University has rewarded him with this significant scholarship proving that hard work doesn’t often go unnoticed.’

Ziyanda’s advice to upcoming soccer players: ‘Remember that an educated sportsman is better than an uneducated one.’

author : Leena Rajpal
author email :

Award Winner Dreams of Being Involved in Android Development

Award Winner Dreams of  Being Involved in Android Development
Mr Devin Pelser.

Computer Science student Mr Devin Pelser, a winner of the Malegapuru W Makgoba Scholarship, has dreams of following his passion all the way to a ‘Silicon Valley-esque’ future, with android development on the cards.

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

Pelser, who attended Maritzburg College, says much of his young life was spent behind a computer screen enabling him to hone his computer skills, which, combined with his love of Mathematics, led him to studying Computer Science.

‘Computer Science is hands-on; you write some code and you see the output. I love being able to watch what I’ve coded perform its task,’ said Pelser.

The award contributes significantly to relieving the burden of outstanding fees, and will also drive him to maintain and improve his excellent marks - which include certificates of merit for nine modules thus far, and two Dean’s commendations.

Pelser plans to continue with his studies, ideally moving on to honours and master’s degrees in pure mathematics. He spends much of his focus on artificial intelligence, which he says is the future.

author : Christine Cuénod
author email :