For Bachelor of Commerce summa cum laude graduates Mr Sriram Maharaj, Mr Ivan Lourens and Ms Phumla Bala, finishing top of their class is validation that hard work and dedication are synonymous with success.
Maharaj received the Pius Langa and Brenda Gourley Scholarships from UKZN in 2017 and 2018 respectively, a much welcome relief from tuition fees.
‘Receiving these scholarships was an acknowledgment of my hard work and financial relief for my family. My experience over the past three years has been fairly comfortable. While the steep increases in workload caught me by surprise, I was able to adjust my methods and cope reasonably well throughout my years of study,’ he said.
With the ultimate goal of pursuing a career in Chartered Accountancy, Maharaj is currently studying towards a Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting and is looking forward to a successful future.
‘My undergraduate qualification prepared me well for the academic challenges of postgraduate work. I believe it will serve as an excellent foundation to build a well-rounded set of core skills that will enable me to make a meaningful contribution to the business world as well as the economy,’ he added.
Lourens commented that, ‘Hard work and determination have defined my degree. Whilst I have had to make sacrifices, it has been very rewarding and worth every minute. I met some amazing people along this journey and the lecturers were always willing to help and go the extra mile to ensure I understood the material. I learnt a lot about myself and how I handle stressful situations. These are things that I will carry with me for life,’ he said.
With aspirations of becoming a Chartered Accountant, Lourens’ immediate plan is to hone his skills at one of the world’s top four accounting firms.
‘I was awarded a training contract by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) which begins in 2021. Their vacation programme enabled me to gain real-world experience and exposed me to the professional work environment. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and privileged to be part of the PWC family,’ he said.
Bala said that a supportive network of family, the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance and friends got her through the challenges of pursing a BCom Accounting degree.
‘I come from a well-rounded and supportive family who have always pushed me to do my best and have been there when I needed them most. All my achievements are because of them. Regular student protests impacted heavily on our studies and resulted in us studying under pressure. Luckily, the lecturers and School Dean did their utmost to get us through. My roommate was also a blessing,’ she said.
Words: Thandiwe Jumo