GradStar Awards Celebrate Top 100 Students

The Top 100 undergraduate students in South Africa were celebrated this week at the GradStar Awards, hosted by the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg on the 27th and 28th of September.

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The GradStar Awards is an annual event produced by BlackBark Productions (creators of the Rising Star Awards) and GradConnection that recognises the Top 100 students across South Africa and connects them with potential employers, in turn giving employers a chance to develop long lasting relationships with the top talent.

Out of 3,500 other applicants, a strict and rigorous selection process decided the Top 100 students who not only excel academically, but who are also well rounded and possess leadership skills.

The assessment process was designed to select candidates based on readiness for and ability in the workplace. The initial selection process involved students submitting application forms, then completing psychometric tests, and based on the results of the test, they were then invited to complete an online interview.

Six of Monash University South Africa students were part of the Top 100 including Tsholofelo Gomba, Seannah Head, Mamodikwe Kungoane, Wura Makinde, Muhammad Raafay Siddiqui and Kirsten Olivia Smith. For their full profiles, click here.

Mamodikwe Kungoane, who is completing her Bachelor of Public Health degree says, “GradStar 2016 was one of the most beautifully overwhelming experiences. I feel honoured to be amongst so many bright stars. One of the things I appreciate the most is binding with stars from my very own campus.”

Seannah Head, a second year student who is double majoring in Business Management and Psychology says, “I thought it was such an eye opening experience that really made me feel inspired and energised to take on new challenges. I felt awesome being surrounded by such excellent minds and felt really grateful to be blessed to take part in such an amazing experience.”

Wura Makinde, who is completing her Bachelor of Business Science in Accounting says, “I found that GradStar was an extremely enlightening, empowering and humbling experience. I got to meet and learn from so many phenomenal people. It reignited my desire to succeed and made me realise that I want to do more, care more and contribute more to our society.”

Tsholofelo Gomba, a second year student double majoring in Applications & Network Development and Business Systems says, “I enjoyed meeting all those wonderful people from various universities. I’m disappointed that there weren’t many organisation focusing on IT though.”

In agreement, Kirsten Olivia Smith, who is double majoring in Journalism and Psychology says that she was disappointed that there weren’t more exhibitors and potential employers present at the event. “I was expecting the SABC or Tiger Brands companies to be at the event because I’m interested in marketing and journalism. But it seemed like the event only catered for students in accounting or law orientated faculties.” However, Smith states that “the GradStar Awards was an amazing opportunity to connect with students from other universities” and that she is honoured to be part of the Top 100 undergraduate students in South Africa.

The programme patron, Dr David Molapo (who was recently tasked by the Office of the President and the Department of Education with the responsibility of putting together 16 events celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Youth Day on 16th June 2016) fully endorsed the GradStar Awards by saying, “This is a worthy programme, designed to uplift the student youth at this time of unrest and provide an aspirational platform to assist them in achieving their potential. I urge you, as the employers and educators of South Africa, to support this initiative and help create this exciting network of young people.”

The ‘Ten of the Finest’ were then selected of the Top 100 students in a four phase judging process conducted during Day 1 by Dell Young Leaders Programme, Fasken Martineau, PwC and FNB. The winners were then announced during the Gala Dinner and formal award ceremony.

Students were then able to stay overnight at the Protea Hotel in order to rest up before the second day of the GradStar awards which involved numerous workshops, talks by guest speakers and exhibitors, and meeting with mentors from the Rising Star Awards programme.

Muhammad Raafay Siddiqui, who is a second year student completing his Bachelor of Business Science in Economics says, “It’s one thing to achieve and another to be recognised for it. To be recognised as one of the Top 100 university students in the country is incredible. Not only does it allow for one to feel appreciated but to become motivated to always excel and pursue the most enlightening of goals.” Siddiqui then commented on the event saying that the programme was wonderful and that “it created a space to learn and network with some of the best business minds in the country.” However, Siddiqui mentioned that the programme lacked speakers and individuals from non-business related entities and thus some students could not connect with the leaders they were presented with. He then commented on the Rising Star Mentorship programme saying that it is “a great idea and will definitely be of benefit to students looking to enter the workplace.” Overall, Siddiqui says that he enjoyed the stay, the workshops, as well as the company of the other Top 100 students and will forever “cherish the opportunity to network and create friends with the cream of the crop of South Africa.”

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