UKZN graduates realise dreams against all odds and are ready to soar

2015-04-20 00:00

SOME of the country’s finest academics have graduated from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, some overcoming all odds to complete their education.

One student, Bongisiwe Shelembe, obtained her Master of Science degree in Chemistry cum laude.

Shelembe grew up in the rural area Msinga in KZN and was one of 11 children in her financially challenged family.

Shelembe experienced hardships and challenges at university as she came from a school where English wasn’t the ­language of instruction.

“I would even walk around with a ­dictionary just so that I could communicate as I was not proficient in English,” Shelembe said.

Another graduate started his working career as a security guard in northern KZN. Dr Sipho Buthelezi used the three years he spent in the job to wisely plan the way forward to a better life.

He started saving and eventually had enough money to resign from his security guard position to register at the university and now has his PhD.

UKZN scientist Dr Adriana Marais, who is among the final 100 shortlisted candidates to possibly go to Mars on a one-way mission, also obtained her PhD last week.

Marais may one day have the chance to investigate the possibility that life exists or existed on another planet, with hopes of being in the final team of four who aim to be the first humans to ­colonise Mars in 2024.

Six Mechanical Engineering students who were part of the team who created an award-winning solar-powered car, graduated with BSc Engineering degrees last week.

They are Damien Raghubeer, Matthew Woods, Nicholas Witteveen, Peter Sinclair, Saien Rugdeo and Shuvay Singh.

The proud graduates worked on the 2014 solar car, iKlwa, which came first in the South African category and third overall in the 2014 Pretoria to Cape Town eight-day Solar Car Challenge, covering a distance of 2 418,3 km and racing against teams from all around the world.

The UKZN team have since signed up to participate in the 2015 World Solar Car Challenge, scheduled to take place in Australia later this year.

Hulamin, the major sponsors of iKlwa, have pledged a further R1 million to send the team to Australia as they were so impressed with their performance last year.

It will be the first time an African team has entered this international event.

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