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The Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Keegan Naidoo, who is currently a final year Master’s student in the Faculty of Applied Arts, is over the moon for making it into the prestigious Mail & Guardian (M&G) Top 200 Young South Africans 2021.

The Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans event highlights and promotes the activities of eminent young South Africans in a wide diversity of fields, based on nominations submitted to the M&G editorial office in the duration of the call. The final 200 winners were selected from a list of over 5000 nominations. Naidoo featured in the prestigious Editor’s Choice Category: COVID-19 heroes, where he was selected because he represented the sort of change agents who can help inspire and lead South Africa through this decade.

Speaking of his nomination, Naidoo explained that the call for nominations was sent out to all DUT stakeholders, so he spoke to the ex-acting HOD of the fashion and Textiles department about nominating him.

“I knew I stood a chance as I have been done some good work in the past 12 months,” he said.

He presented all his work done over the past 12 months to the ex-acting HOD, who happens to be his master supervisor, and he made the decision to nominate him.

“I won the Vodacom Durban July (VDJ) 2020 Fashion Challenge, I was also awarded the best Master’s paper at the DUT 2020 Postgraduate conference, a project I am currently working on which was selected in the Top 10 at the DUT community engagement awards. I am working with the National Arts Council on a project to help women in the fashion industry earn an income after losing their jobs as a result of the pandemic,” he said.

He relayed that the final announcement of winners in each category was announced at a live virtual event on 24 June 2021, where he was a winner in the Editor’s Choice Category: COVID-19 Heroes.

Speaking of the online awards ceremony, especially under such trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic, Naidoo indicated that it was nerve wrecking and exciting all in one go, as any award ceremony is.

“I have become accustomed to the virtual space, as I have previously won accolades at virtual award ceremonies. So, I was thrilled to have won such a prestigious award,” he said.

He further relayed that such competitions opened doors to so many opportunities which allows one to network and align one’s self with inspirational leaders and forward-thinkers of these times.

“You are able to connect, collaborate and share ideas and knowledge with like-minded individuals as we can learn a great deal from each other. I have some great plans, and I know this award will certainly play a pivotal role in me reaching these goals,” he said elatedly.

Going forward, two of his future goals is a plan to expand his fashion business and hopefully find the time to purse a PHD in community and development studies.

His advice to students wanting to be in the fashion industry and enter such competitions is to always reach for the stars.

“Cultivate a tenacious spirit and reach for the stars as nothing is impossible. Once your find what you are good at, become the best at it. Remember that some of greatest life lessons will come from your toughest moment, use these moments as motivation to become the best,” he said.

Pictured: Keegan Naidoo

Waheeda Peters

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