Each year, a call is sent out from the office of Dr Paul Tai-Hing for students to enter the GradStar Award Programme. The programme is an attempt to bring students into contact with industry leaders, with the end goal of making students more marketable in the job market.

This year, Ms Monalisa Mapapu, an Advanced Diploma Management Practice student, has successfully made it to the Top 100 students in South Africa. At the end of October, Ms Mapapu will be flown to and accommodated in Johannesburg where she will experience a series of interviews and enjoy networking sessions with various captains of industry. Herewith is Ms Mapapu’s documented experience thus far:


“GradStar Awards is basically a programme which takes place annually and is in its 7th year now. It identifies the top 100 students in South Africa, based on their leadership skills and work readiness. This is more of like a dating app whereby top students meet up and network with top employers in the country. I've been hearing about GradStar for quite a while now however I didn't think I stood a chance as I felt like I wasn't ready to compete with other amazing students.”


“So, this year when I saw the email sent by one of my lecturers, Dr Paul, to the Faculty I immediately jumped to the opportunity to try my luck. Firstly, I had made it to the top 500 after we had done a self-assessment which talks about self-awareness and time management, just to mention a few. Being part of the top 500 now meant the competition was getting real. We had now been asked to do 4 phases which includes, a future fit test, personal development plan, 61 questions based on how you practically resolve issues and lastly an introduction video explaining to the GradStar team why you think you deserve to be a top 100 candidate for 2022.”


“So, on the 30th of September 2022, the day had come for the announcement. It was quite nerve wrecking to say the least, as I didn't know whether I'll make it or not. Once they got to Nelson Mandela University, I heard my name called out first and I couldn't believe it. I didn't know whether to laugh, scream or cry, so I just calmed myself down and took some time off as I was still in disbelief. Only 5 students from NMU had made it to the top 100. Now on the 30th of November we'll be heading to Johannesburg, all expenses paid. This is where we'll meet up with the top employers, network and get mentorship, as well as most importantly, a kick start to one's career.”


“This has been a great experience so far and I can't wait for the next phase of the competition where they'll also announce the top 10 finest in South Africa.”


We are so proud of Ms Mapapu and hope that more students studying the Diploma and Advanced Diploma Management, will participate in the GradStar programme in 2023.

Contact information
Dr Paul Tai-Hing
Head of Department
Tel: 27 41 504 3747