UCT Students ranked top in the country

11 Oct 2016 - 13:45
2016 GradStar Finalists receive their awards
#TenOfTheFinest: Two UCT students, Nicole Dunne (fourth from left) and Ahmed Syed (fourth from right), stand with their fellow Top 10 students of South Africa as recognised by the GradStar Awards 2016


In a prestigious accolade of recognition for the homegrown talent of our UCT students, the judges behind the 2016 GradStar Awards recognised Nicole Dunne (BSocSc Politics) and Ahmed Syed (BSc Chemical Engineering) as two of the top ten South African students for their overall readiness and ability for the workplace. 

Six other UCT students, Arshad Abrahams, Mamello Rantseuoa, Phomelelo Frans Mothapo, Rachel Serraf, Sabeehah Kootbodien and Vuyolwethu Nkosi were also celebrated for being in the top 100 of this national list. Watch the highlights video.

At the inaugural GradStar Gala Dinner and Award Ceremony on September 29 in Johannesburg, major stakeholders of South Africa’s graduate recruitment industry, from University leadership and academics to top recruiters and careers specialists, including representatives from UCT Careers Service, were brought together to recognise the 100 South African University student finalists. 

This group of students, recognised as the next generation of future leaders, are about to commence their final year of study and are looking to make their first career move. Through the GradStar Awards, they are connected with business mentors and employers who are then able to forge relationships with this top talent.
The Communications division at the UCT Careers Service helped market the event via its social media channels so that UCT students could have the chance to network and build connections with employers. Nawaal Boolay, Head: Employer Relations at UCT Careers Service, says the competition gave graduate talent the “extra edge by connecting emerging leadership talent with some of South Africa’s top graduate employers.”

“It, in turn, gives employers a chance to develop long-lasting relationships with the top talent in the country. We are proud of our eight UCT students who made it to the Top 100 and the two who came into the Top 10. This is a huge accolade for our students. It's great to see our graduate talent immersing themselves into these opportunities and taking up these challenges.” 

Nicole and Ahmed competed with 3 500 students from universities across the country. After a gruelling four-phase judging process, only 100 were shortlisted after which “Ten of the Finest” are chosen. The criteria are not only about academic achievement but also many ubiquitous leadership qualities.

Ahmed appreciates maths and science, and has always thought that “engineers simply make the world a better place,” and that is his goal in life. In between pursuing academic and sporting excellence,  he also does community volunteering with many organisations. 

Ahmed is grateful to have been part of the GradStar process. “It reassured me that South Africa is moving forward in terms of investing in education, recruiting and also acknowledging exceptional individuals with a vision. The process was competitive and demanding but perseverance was the key to success.” 

Getting the award means he can network with not only influential employers but high-achieving students too.

“The achievement drew a lot of attention to many major companies that are looking out for young talented individuals with innovative ideas. Meeting with renowned academic coaches also helped build our leadership skills, which is crucial in the working world.”  


When reflecting on her experience, Nicole says that receiving the recognition was bitter-sweet. She describes the experience as "incredibly humbling”.
“I was amazed and excited by the talent in the room, and I look forward to building on the connections that I made with the talented future leaders of South Africa.”

“However, in light of the current struggle for free education, it seems selfish to celebrate such a success. There are students who have worked twice as hard as I have and who have much more potential, but who have not been afforded the same opportunities to realise it.”

The message was clear to this group of impressive young people, that they should remain curious and to continue to strive to make a difference in the world around them. 

Laura Barker, managing director of BlackBark Productions, which partners with key stakeholders to run the awards, said in a statement that the quality of undergraduates at universities in the country was “amazing.”

“Even more impressive is their commitment to social change with so many of them spending their free time involved in community activities and mentoring as well as achieving top grades themselves.”

Story by: Staff reporters
Images: Supplied