Five Durban University of Technology (DUT) students have secured a place in the country’s Top 100 students list of the Absa GradStar Awards 2020. They are Kimendren Gounden, Sanele Hlatshwayo, Tiziano Gospodnetic, Nqobile Sibisi and Shrishti Maharaj who have ‘made their mark’ out of 8000 entries.
Now in its 5th year the GradStar Awards recognises the most employable full-time students in the country and is the only programme of its kind where thousands of students enter in order to be recognised by the top employers in the nation.
Laura Barker – founder of the GradStar Awards and Managing Director of BlackBark Productions said: “During this time of COVID, employers need to stay relevant and visible to the workforce of the future, and through the GradStar Programme we have found a way to bridge the gap between the university and the world of work. We have also implemented a virtual webinar programme where students are able to engage more regularly with employers.”
One of the DUT students is Kimendren Gounden, a Bachelor of Technology fourth-year Mechanical Engineering student.
“I am beyond grateful and blessed to be part of the top 100 finalists. It makes me believe that I certainly stood out among 8000 participants. I feel even more motivated and it gives me the drive to work even harder towards my future goals and plans. It also helps me to understand that by giving off my best during every stage of the competition will ensure my success. It also boosts my self-confidence to serve as a role model for others,” he said.
When asked what made him choose such a field of study, Gounden said that he was always intrigued about the composition, mechanics and operations of how things, more especially toys, actually work. “This burning desire to know more led me to choose this field of study. My ultimate aim in my field of work is to produce something concrete that will have a broad-based benefit to the global economy and to solve current power and energy challenges. The field of Mechanical Engineering for me is an interesting platform to combine the logical-reasoning and the analytical aspects while maintaining a firm grasp on reality and real life solutions,” he said.
Gounden said that with Graduate Programmes like Gradstar assisting worthy students to be exposed to potential employers, is amazing. “This programme recognises my strengths and the various achievements I have acquired over the last few years and also prepares me for the working world. Being a finalist in this type of competition gives me the edge over others since I could be ‘hand-picked’ for a specific job,” he said excitedly.
Gounden expressed that if he is featured in the final top 10, he will be overjoyed. “Featuring in the top 10 will mean that I am a notable and worthy candidate for a potential job opportunity. It also gives me the opportunity to empower my fellow students. My long-term goal is to further my studies and venture into prospective entrepreneurial opportunities. In addition to this, I plan to plough back into my community and uplift the up and coming graduates,” he said.
The Top 100 Finalists will all participate in a full day of workshops on 17 September 2020, after which 10 finalists will be selected by the sponsors. The 10 finalists will be announced via a live webinar on 22 September 2020.
Pictured: Kimendren Gounden