Students shine at awards

Yolanda Bam-Mguye placed second in the 2016 GradStar Awards.

Two University of the Western Cape law students claimed the top spots at the 2016 GradStar Awards, which recognises the top 100 university students across South Africa.

Second-year law student Yolanda Bam-Mguye, from Oakglen, in Bellville, came second, while, Freddy Kido, of Windhoek, also doing second-year law, came first.

The GradStar Awards are an annual event by BlackBark Productions (creators of the Rising Star Awards) and GradConnection, which connects students with potential employers. Candidates are chosen for their workplace readiness.

The top 100 were slected from 3 500 applications submitted by 26 universities. Thewinners were announced during a gala dinner in September in Johannesburg.

UWC had four students in the top 100.

Ms Bam-Mguye, 28, says it’s a challenge juggling studies while being a mother, wife and student, but then feels her maturity has been an advantage.

“I think because I’m older and more responsible, I am more focused and I can do more. I think what counted in my favour is that I worked for nine years building my beauty business before I enrolled for the law degree at UWC.”

Ms Bam-Mguye is a member of the UWC Moot Society, developing her legal skills with mock trials and debates.

She also helped to establish a public speaking co-curricular activity, the True Leaders Forum.

“Students were often apprehensive to speak up in class or voice their opinions – not ideal for law students, since their future jobs will largely entail getting their point across and arguing their point in a public space,” she said.

The forum, which already has 300 members from all faculties, helps to give students the confidence they need with public speaking.

Mr Kido, 25, matriculated in 2010 and received a scholarship to complete his studies overseas but had to turn it down for personal reasons.

“I thought it was the end of my dreams. So I found a job at the bank, worked for a few months and then applied for an opportunity to come to South Africa and complete my aviation training at a flight college in the Eastern Cape.”

He completed his private pilot licence ground school training and an air traffic controller’s course and worked in the aviation industry while also enrolled at the University of Namibia for his Bachelorof Law degree.

“I’ve always been interested in studying law from a very young age. I remember, in Grade 6, my dad asked me what it was I wanted to become and I said I wanted to be a lawyer,” said Mr Kido.