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Mandela University student leaders lauded at Achievers Awards

Oct 22, 2019
Mandela University student leaders lauded at Achievers Awards

Port Elizabeth - Nelson Mandela University Law students Thina Ntsaluba and Lawrence Lwanga scooped top honours at this year’s Achievers Awards, which recognise students’ leadership excellence.

The student Achiever awards recognize Mandela University’s exceptional student leaders who have excelled in the areas of Arts, Culture and Heritage; the Student Representative Council (SRC); Student Societies and Residence Life and Leadership, while maintaining a good academic performance.

Ntsaluba and Lwanga, who are in their third and fourth years of Law studies respectively, received the prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence in Leadership awards last week – the former in the female category and the latter in the male.

The Vice-Chancellors Awards are given to two students who have distinguished themselves as outstanding leaders in co-curricular activities at the University. Their performance and contribution must have been sustained over a period of two years, and they must have proven themselves in a variety of leadership portfolios and maintained a consistent good academic record.

The top awards were not the only ones that this duo walked away with, as Ntsaluba also scooped the Society Administrator of the Year award for her work in the Black Lawyers’ Association student society, while Lwanga had bagged the Student Leader of the Year award to rapturous applause.

Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sibongile Muthwa, stressed the importance of co-curricular activity at University in unlocking student agency and building active and conscious citizenship among young people.

“At Nelson Mandela University, we have re-calibrated our system. This has allowed us to reconfigure the kinds of challenges that face society today. Our co-curricular opportunities serve as a platform to generate innovative strategies to address these challenges through education. Skills acquired in spaces beyond the lecture hall have proved their worth in ongoing life-long learning,” she said.

“The opportunity to be part of a residence committee, a student society and or play for a team – on or off the sports field – serves us well in producing well-rounded students. We want our students to leave us demonstrating sought-after attributes, such as the ability to adapt, be creative, have excellent communication skills and think critically.”

Ntsaluba, who is a Vice-Chancellor’s scholar and a participant in the Allan Gray programme, developed her leadership skills by being involved in a host of activities throughout her University career.

These include completing the self-development leadership programme Beyond the Classroom (BtC) and being selected as a How2 Buddy, assisting first year students with their transition to university life.

Ntsaluba holds an executive position in the Black Lawyers Association and focusses on raising awareness of and looking at the effects of gender-based violence, having also advocated for the prevention of the secondary victimization of survivors of gender-based violence. She has also advocated for mental health education at the institution.

Realising that she has a role to play in her community, Ntsaluba also volunteers at the Zonke Izinto Baby Home, among a host of other duties – all while maintaining an academic aggregate of above 70% aggregate. She is also a Golden Key student and made the Faculty of Laws Dean’s List for 2018.

Lwanga, who is also an Allan Gray scholar and whose involvement ranges from public speaking, volunteering and entrepreneurship, is currently the Chairperson of the Black Lawyers Association and serves on its provincial board.

He has been involved in making policy recommendations on the sexual harassment infrastructure and reporting mechanisms at the University, as well as establishing a student advocacy programme. He volunteered to assist with the Memeza and Teta Memela projects to raise awareness around the dynamics of power and gender-based violence.

The BLA society has been proactive in running a programme educating farm workers at about 20 farms of their rights.

Aware of the sad reality of student hunger on campus, Lwanga founded the Xan Drive Feeding Scheme and established a fundraising initiative, which feeds between 30 and 50 young men weekly.

He continued with his fundraising passion by joining the UNAKO Community-Based Movement, which changes lives through grassroots education, particularly in schools in Nelson Mandela Bay townships.

With a passion for entrepreneurship and in his role as Living and Learning Entrepreneurial Development Head, Lwanga has networked with 30 student entrepreneurs and collaborated with key stakeholders to provide them with off campus exposure.

He was selected to the GradStar Leadership Top 100, which recognises top performing students across the country based on their leadership qualities.  

The full list of Achievers Awards recipients is as follows:

  • SRC Member of the Year – Njabulo Mdlalose
  • Arts and Culture Performer of the Year: Dance - Kaylan Matthews
  • Arts and Culture Performer of the Year: Poetry - Silvester Manyonga
  • Arts and Culture Performer of the Year: Drama - Kanyisa Poswa
  • Arts and Culture Choir Member of the Year - Molatela Morudu
  • Arts and Culture Administrator of the Year - Thobile Masombuka
  • Arts and Culture Person of the Year - Odwa Sikrweqe
  • Arts and Culture Society of the Year – Ballroom and Latin American Dance Society
  • The Residence Living & Learning All Rounder of the Year award - Alulutho Xanywa
  • Religious Society of the Year - Jesus the Only Solution
  • Developmental Society of the Year - Enactus Society
  • Academic Society of the Year - Law Students Society
  • Society Person of the Year - Sanele Thwala
  • Residence of the Year – Kings Residence
  • Student Society of the Year – Enactus Society

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