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GradStar Awards 2017

UWC continues to excel in the prestigious GradStar Awards 2017, producing 8 students in the Top 100 - including Lungelwa Mambesi Goje, who was named one of South Africa’s Top 10 Finest Students.

Lungelwa Mambesi Goje’s (22) love for numbers started at a young age, and she has always believed that, with numbers, she can make a real difference - which contributed to the BCom Accounting student being a worthy recipient of the 2017 GradStar Top 10 Finest Students Award.

The GradStar programme recognises the Top 100 students across the country based on leadership qualities and readiness for the workplace. And out of over 3 000 entrants from 26 universities in the 2017 GradStar Awards, eight students from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) made it to the Top 100, and one student - Lungelwa Mambesi Goje (22) - to the Top 10 Finest.

For Lungelwa, GradStar means recognition for all her efforts and hard work, and for that she is extremely grateful. But she believes that people don’t succeed alone - they succeed with others.

“I was honoured and ecstatic to receive the award,” she shares, “but it would have been even more exciting if I wasn’t the only one - I really want to see more UWC students in the top ten next year.”

Lungelwa aspires to become a Chartered Accountant.

“Good auditors hold big entities and government accountable for their expenditures,” she says. “They ensure that businesses are run efficiently and sustainably - and ethically.”

Lungelwa came to UWC based on its Accounting department’s strong reputation, and was fortunate enough to receive funding from the Pilot Thuthuka programme.

“We received such a warm welcome during my first year, and seeing people from different backgrounds brought me so much joy,” she explains.

She won a UWC essay competition for women in Accounting, and also achieved second place in the Top 30 Student Leadership Summit held by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) - after submitting another essay about how she would use her time best to succeed as an accountant.

On top of her many achievements, she became a South African Delegate at the Girls 20 Summit in Germany, bringing together one exceptional girl from each G20 country, the African Union, European Union and the MENA region for a discussion focused on women and girl empowerment.

“We participated in a panel discussion with local and global experts on migration, digital economy and climate change,” Lungelwa says.

The delegates received training before and during the summit on pitching, negotiating and strategy. Then they had to develop a set of recommendations aimed at helping G20 leaders to accomplish their promise of creating 100 million new jobs for women by the year 2025 - recommendations that were given to the President and Finance ministers of G20 countries.

“I had never represented my country in any way - so it felt good being referred to as ‘South Africa’, and having an impact on the conversation.”

This self-motivated young lady has always been active and involved in her community as well.

Lungelwa volunteers at Vision AfriKa, where she motivates kids to take responsibility for their futures, and helps make them aware of career opportunities.

Her love for giving back even inspired her to start her own NGO, a Post-Summit initiative which aims to achieve which aims to help Grade 9 girls build successful careers by teaching them Mathematics, Computer Skills, Financial Literacy and Career Awareness. 

“Success to me means finding happiness and achieving my goals in order to give back to my community - and that is why I am starting a programme for girls in my community in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch,” she says proudly.

Coming from humble beginnings, with a domestic worker mother and an unemployed father, Lungelwa believes that anything is possible. She advises everyone to pursue what they want and knock down every barrier in their way.

“Your voice deserves to be heard,” she says. “Never diminish yourself just so that others can be comfortable.”

The rest of the Top 7 UWC GradStar Award Winners for 2017 are (in no particular order):

Wikus Botha (for the second year in a row)

  • B Commerce, Honours

Viwe Manyifolo

  • B Accounting

Samantha Inamoolela Bhengu

  • B Science

Gaynor Charlyn Nelson

  • LLB IV

Zintle Zazele

  • B Accounting

Nicola Grace de Louw

  • B Commerce

Liso Mtsambela

  • B Com Accounting

Lungelwa Mambesi Goje

  • B Com Accounting

GradStar received over a thousand applications in 2017 and narrowed them down to the Top 100 candidates who went through a rigorous four-phase judging process. This process led to employer workshops, culminating with identifying students regarded as “Ten of the Finest”.