The Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Ugeshni Moodley is honoured to have been the recent recipient of the prestigious Chancellor’s Award, given in recognition of Innovative Excellence in the category of STUDENT CENTEREDNESS, and awarded to her for her sterling role and contribution towards the Student Bursaries Project.
She won the award at the DUT Council Staff and Research and Innovation Awards Ceremony 2020, which took place virtually, last year.
The award in this category is awarded to an innovative project or initiative that has positively enhanced the student living and/or learning experience – academically, socially and/or in the context of student welfare and wellbeing.
Moodley is a Technician who hails from the Faculty of Accounting and Informatics. She has 15 years of lecturing experience at DUT and has attained many industry certifications over the years. As fate may have it, she had to leave her passion for lecturing due to ill-health and has since taken up a technical post within the Faculty of Accounting and Informatics at DUT.
“I have a strong flair for organising events and have successfully hosted numerous awards functions and team building events. I advocate for a positive work environment characterised by teamwork, support, trust, and respect for one another. I believe that hard work and commitment is the key to success, so if you ask my family, they will say that I am a workaholic,” she relayed.
Moodley further said that she lives by the values of service to humanity, giving back and paying it forward, to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate.
Upon winning such a prominent Chancellors award, Moodley expressed that she still cannot believe she had won such an award.
“I really didn’t expect it. I feel so honoured and it is just so inspiring to be recognised. I am extremely grateful to DUT for this prestigious award. It has surely motivated me to keep working at it to make a difference to those in need. I believe I have done my family and my parents proud,” she said happily.
She thanked the industry partner, Systems Applications Products (South Africa) (Proprietary) Limited-SAP®, who reached out to her call to assist students from financially strained families to the tune of over R 3.7 million. She gave thanks to the administrative staff from the Departments of Information Technology (IT,) Department of Information Systems (IS), Faculty Office, Information Technology Support Services (ITSS)
Department, Advancement and Alumni Office and Finance for timeously providing support documents that she required to secure the bursaries.
“Thank you to the Department HODs (both past and present), as well as the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Accounting and Informatics for the support and the kind words of gratitude they extended to me. I would also like to thank my husband Ravesen and my kids, Divaan and Geeren, for allowing me to sacrifice family time and the long hours after work to make this initiative a success. They have been incredibly supportive, understanding and shared in my goal of making a difference in the lives of the less fortunate,” she said.
Coming from a financially disadvantaged background herself, she knows the strain taken on a family and the sacrifices made to educate their children. “In my time as a lecturer and to date, I have heard the plea of many academically deserving students who would have risked becoming dropouts due to lack of funding. Like I, many of these students would be the first in their family to graduate with a tertiary qualification and dropping out would be shattering any hope of a brighter future for themselves and their families. Their plight made me approach our industry partners for financial support towards their studies,” she said.
She works closely with the students in need, their academic departments, and the relevant support departments to adhere to the sponsors’ requirements and the bursary’s approval.
Moodley indicated that her lecturers’ positive impact on her as a student influenced her joining academia.
“Our students are the core existence of our business and their tertiary experience shapes their futures. There should be no compromise on the service, skill set, motivation and opportunities offered to them. We must allow them to bring out the best versions of themselves while preparing them for greater things in life,” she stressed.
She gave more input on how the Envision 2030 strategic plan can help students grow.
“I think student recognition is essential in keeping students engaged and motivated. I also believe in student involvement and accountability, so introducing student clubs that focus on community engagement and projects in line with the perspectives of Envision 2030, will enhance student growth and success,” she said.
Moodley said having the Envision 2030 strategic plan also highlights the equal importance of all stakeholders such as universities, staff, and students in achieving a prosperous society.
She conveyed that the current global pandemic has undoubtedly affected many people and large corporations alike. She stressed that it had been much more difficult seeking funding during this pandemic but none the less she has still been trying to find avenues to assist students. “Reaching out to industry and abiding by their timelines posed more difficult during the pandemic and hindered securing the bursaries I targeted,” she said.
“The good news is that IBM South Africa (Pty) Limited recently approved over R 1.1 million in financial support and a laptop to each of the qualifying students,” she said.
Her key goal is to continue appreciating life. She aims to balance work, family, health, and studies while improving her tertiary qualifications and industry certifications. She would also like to increase her networking skills and attract new projects and opportunities.
“I would like to encourage staff to bring new sponsors that could grow this project. Even if you help only one student, that is a difference worth a million smiles. The satisfaction you get from knowing you contributed to a family’s well-being and made a difference to society at large is just overwhelming,” she said.
Pictured: Ugeshni Moodley