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.’