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GradStar 2018: South Africa’s Top 100 Tertiary Students Announced!

Author: Nicklaus Kruger

The GradStar top graduates awards: 1 country, 26 universities, 4000 entrants, and 100 top graduates - including the University of the Western Cape’s Busiswa Mahlambi (Accounting), Luqmaan Samsodien (Science) and Sisa Foloti (Finance & Investments).

(Published - 7 September 2018)

After receiving thousands of entries from across the country and putting the entrants through a rigorous four-phase judging process, South Africa’s top university students have been discovered from across the country.

Many excellent, engaging (and eminently employable) graduates made the Top 100 (click here for the full list) - and 3 of those graduates were products of the University of the Western Cape.

Busiswa Mahlambi (Accounting): For people who think accountants are boring number-crunchers who are all in it for the money, there’s a perfect counter-example: UWC BCom accounting graduate (and Honours student) Busiswa Mahlambi. Since coming to the University in 2015, Busiswa has been recognised as one of the top students in the country, as a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and has been part of SCO-UWC. And all this while giving back to the student community, working as a Student Assistant at UWC Residential Services and volunteering to raise funds through the UWC Access to Success Phonathon.

Luqmaan Samsodien (Science): Curiosity, a hunger for knowledge, and a desire to expand his knowledge and skills brought Crawford-based Mogammad Luqmaan Samsodien into a chemistry degree at Stellenbosch University, a BSc Hons in Medical Biosciences at UWC, and ultimately an MSc in Nanotechnology at UWC. It also motivated him to take part in entrepreneurship and leadership classes - and in the GradStar challenge. He hopes to use what he learns (and the connections he earns) in helping to grow the nanotechnology field in South Africa. “I am a strong believer in South Africa not being held hostage by more developed countries in terms of their technologies and the prices they demand for them,” he explains. “I feel a social responsibility to not only provide money and create jobs, but also to develop technology and innovations that would improve the world.”

Sisa Foloti (Finance & Investments): Born and raised in Robertson, Sisa Foloti was drawn to do his BCom Honours in Finance & Investments by his passion for finding creative solutions to financial challenges in the real world. He’s worked as a Library Assistant at UWC, as well as a Research & Development Officer for the entrepreneurial unit, Enactus UWC. His vision for the future is to be a lifelong learner, a leader in business, and an inspiration to society - and the GradStar win (and earlier GradConnection Future Leaders win as well) will help him achieve that goal. “The GradStar judging process has unlocked a door to self-awareness and self-development - it reintroduced me to myself,” says Sisa. “And this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rub shoulders with the country’s top employers, and to network with 99 other future leaders from different backgrounds.”

GradStar judging criteria include (among others):

  • Self-Motivation & Discipline
  • Problem Solving & Innovation
  • Altruism & Teamwork
  • Self-Confidence & Presentation Skills
  • >Leadership Attitude & Social Interaction Skills
  • >Written Communication Skills
  • General Knowledge & Logical Thinking

These criteria may seem familiar to anyone who’s ever applied for a job - and that’s not a coincidence.

The GradStar competition process is designed to emulate the process that top employers use to find their future talent, and uses behavioural testing and personal interviewing - amongst other methods - as measurement tools. It allows students to familiarise themselves with the formal graduate programme application process, and enables them to identify their own strengths and weaknesses along the way.

The GradStar programme is set up by BlackBark Productions (creators of the Rising Star Awards) and sponsored by DHL, IBM, Comair, Accenture, Fasken and Epiroc, in conjunction with learning partners AWS.

The Top 100 graduates will compete for a spot in the “Ten of the Finest” at workshops, which take place on 26 September 2018, and will be awarded at the Gala Dinner at Indaba Hotel that evening. Winners will be flown to Sandton for the Awards Gala as well as the Arcelormittal Rising Star summit, where they will meet with other Rising Star alumni.


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