Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing and Information Systems and Technology graduate Ms Nitasha Pillay who was appointed as a Women in Tech South Africa Youth Ambassador during the final-year of her undergraduate studies hopes to inspire young people to upskill in technology.
The top achiever who is currently pursuing her honours obtained 16 distinctions, six Certificates of Merit and an overall A-aggregate has co-founded Tech Society UKZN, a new student society aimed at empowering and mentoring students in the field of technology.
‘Despite failing two modules in my first year, I was able to attain A-aggregates in my second- and final-years. I did not let failure define me because for every setback there is a greater comeback. I want to encourage UKZN students despite failure that they can excel, still get A’s, be proactive at university and graduate in the time provided,’ said Pillay.
Apart from serving as a Social Media and Marketing Community Manager at Women in Tech South Africa, bagging distinctions and creating a student tech society, the go-getter also served as project manager of Enactus UKZN with her project being one of the Top 10 winners in the global 2021-2022 Ford Fund Challenge. She represented UKZN in the Innovate Durban’s 2021 Youth Innovation Challenge where her team prototyped their own technology aimed at minimising child trafficking, which earned them second place and earned her a Zutari Woman in Design award. She also served as the professional development director for the UKZN Golden Key Westville Campus. She is currently a peer academic mentor for the College of Law and Management Studies.
‘Amidst the challenges I faced in my first year, I didn’t want the same to happen to first year students in UKZN that is why I chose to be a mentor. In this role, I advise students on study skills and ways to adapt to their first-year because I know what it was to experience failure. I would never want the same for others and the students I mentor. I hope to inspire students to realise that they can do anything they put their minds to. When I was studying toward my undergraduate degree, I would seek advice from students a year ahead of me in my degree. I would ask them what mistakes I could avoid when studying for certain modules. My advice to students is to find a mentor that can guide and advise you on your academic journey.’
Pillay attributes her success to hard work, her support system of lecturers, family and friends and being involved in UKZN’s clubs and societies.
‘I am grateful to the lecturers in the Marketing and Information Systems and Technology discipline for advising me on career choices and my mum Pam, a professional staff member in UKZN’s College of Health Sciences, my dad Terence, my brother Nathan who is in his second year of BSc Computer Sciences and Information Technology and God for his guidance in my life.’
Words: Thandiwe Jumo
Photograph: Itumeleng Masa