Top students reveal secrets of their success

2010-04-20 00:00

ONE student made maximum use of university offerings outside of the lecture theatre. Another, who set her sights on becoming a chartered accountant, has been working towards this goal since her first year. A third came to the University of KwaZulu-Natal as an exchange student and loved the African experience so much that she came back to do a B.Comm honours degree in marketing.

They come from different cultures and backgrounds. They approached their degrees differently, but they achieved the same results. They are graduating summa cum laude.

From the beginning of her first year studying for a B.Com. degree in accounting, 21-year-old Laura Atkinson’s goal was to come top of her class. The fact that this is exactly what happened came as no surprise to her.

“When I came into university I realised that every person is responsible for making their own success. There are so many people that lecturers don’t have time to pamper or follow after you. You are really in charge of what you want to achieve,” she says.

She describes achieving her plan as amazing, especially since she could share the moment with her family and be acknowledged publicly.

Singaporean Le Ha Trang Nguyen (24), reading for a B. Com. honours in marketing, also set her sights on excelling in her studies, but she said that graduating summa cum laude came as a surprise.

“I think, first of all, it’s the right mindset, to know where to invest your time and effort. For example, focus on application of knowledge rather than memorising theories.

“Secondly, it’s hard work, pure and simple,” says Nguyen, who exchanged e-mails with The Witness from Singapore.

Her advice to students is: “Go for what you want, learn what you are passionate about and not what helps you make money.” She also believes students need to make the most of their university life by taking part in campus activities and making lifelong friends.

Duncan Land (25) really enjoyed his varsity life. He claims to have spent five-and-a-half years doing a four-year programme and still has not had enough. But he too graduated summa cum laude in his B.Comm marketing honours degree.

“I was considering another degree for the sake of hanging on to varsity life, but my bank balance eventually won the argument, common sense prevailed. So I traded the breakfast queue in my student digs for the traffic jam on the N1 going to work,” he says.

Land says he found his honours year demanding but interesting, and commended the heads of the department for putting together a post-graduate programme that is engaging and allows students plenty of latitude in their research.


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