07 November 2023 | Story Anthony Mthembu | Photo SUPPLIED
Katherine Swartland
Katherine Swartland, a representative from Allan Gray addressing the delegation at the Allan Gray Achievement Awards, hosted on the UFS’s Bloemfontein Campus.

The Faculty of Economics and Management Sciences (EMS) at the University of the Free State (UFS), in collaboration with Allan Gray, proudly hosted the annual Allan Gray Achievement Awards on 11 October 2023. This special event, held at the Awela Restaurant on the UFS’s Bloemfontein campus, was designed to celebrate the academic achievements of top-performing students within the faculty, recognising their excellence based on their year of study. 

The award ceremony was attended by distinguished members of the EMS Faculty, the Commercio Students Association, and a delegation from Allan Gray, including Katherine Swartland, Managing Business Analyst, Yonela Makalima, Business Analyst, and Steven Motloung, Manager. The evening's guest speaker was Liz Letsoalo, a renowned entrepreneur and TEDx speaker. Notably, this ceremony marked a significant return to in-person events since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Katherine Swartland, who served as the programme director, described this resurgence as truly exciting. 

The award winners

The Allan Gray Achievement Awards highlighted outstanding students from various year levels. In the second-year category, Modisaotsile Seekoei received a prestigious award of R5 000 along with a Thule backpack, while Melissa Mlotshwa was granted a prize of R3 000. Among the third-year students, Anthea Ralane was recognised with an award of R8 000 and a Thule backpack, and Modiehi Mpakathe was the recipient of a R5 000 prize. In the fourth-year category, Kelebogile Motlhanke earned a remarkable R12 000 reward and a Thule backpack, and Rykers Lues was presented with a prize worth R8 000. 

Although not all students attending the ceremony received awards, Prof Brownhilder Neneh, the Vice Dean for Research Engagement and Internationalisation, aptly reminded the audience, ’It is important to recognise that each of you here is already a winner, as your presence signifies that you are among the top achievers in your field. You have demonstrated that with passion, perseverance, and a commitment to your goals, there are no limits to what you can accomplish.’’ 

A longstanding relationship

The Allan Gray Achievement Awards holds deep roots in a special relationship between the UFS and Allan Gray. Swartland noted that this initiative was founded by Faizil Jakoet, an executive at Allan Gray, and the awards ceremony, in part, celebrates the continued partnership between the UFS and Allan Gray. This enduring relationship has thrived for over a decade, despite changes in leadership, creating opportunities for meaningful engagement between Allan Gray and UFS students. Swartland further emphasised the importance of this bond, saying, ‘’Another special relationship is formed every time we visit the UFS, between us and you, a lot of exceptional students.” 

As the event approached its conclusion, the audience had the privilege of hearing from guest speaker Liz Letsoalo, Founder of Masodi Organics, a prominent beauty and wellness brand. Letsoalo’s address centered on the ‘practicality of creating’, encouraging students to view themselves as creators, allowing them to pivot and adapt as their aspirations evolve. She urged students to stay dedicated to their dreams, emphasising that taking necessary actions and persevering is essential to turning their dreams into reality.

The Allan Gray Achievement Awards signify the remarkable achievements and potential of the UFS EMS Faculty students. This event not only celebrates academic excellence, but also reinforces the enduring partnership between the University of the Free State and Allan Gray, paving the way for further opportunities and engagement.

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