Law Summa Cum Laude Graduates Ecstatic Over their Success

UKZN Law Summa Cum Laude Graduates
Law top achievers celebrate their achievements.

Law summa cum laude graduates, Ms Megan Canning, Ms Payal Maharaj, Ms Fathima Zahra Patel, Ms Mishka Ramraj, Mr Tarun Sham and Ms Celeste Pillay describe graduating at the top of their class as a reward for their hard work and dedication. 

Canning, who aspires to be a maritime lawyer, says obtaining her LLB is the first step towards realising this dream. 

‘I find the oceans and the law of the sea so interesting and would love to eventually end-up in a situation where I could make a difference in the oceans and contribute something meaningful. I am currently completing my Masters in Shipping Law at the University of Cape Town. My Law degree will definitely become useful here and in the future as it is a good foundation for all things I wish to pursue,’ she said. 

Being a top achiever is a norm for Patel as she secured 19 Certificates of Merit. She was awarded the Barend Van Niekerk Prize (Best Jurisprudence Student), James Scott Wylie Trust Bursary (Top Performing Third Year Student), Juta Prize (Best Third Year Student at the 2023 School of Law’s Student Awards Ceremony), as well as UKZN’s Undergraduate Merit Scholarship for 2019, 2021 and 2022. 

‘Having now entered the legal profession, this degree has given me a good foundation for the learning still to come and in hindsight, I could not see myself having studied anything else. I am currently a candidate attorney at Africa’s largest Law firm, ENSafrica. Having served articles for a few months now, my career has only just begun and I am grateful to be gaining specialised experience and to learn from the best of lawyers. I aim to complete my training and to become an Admitted Attorney of the High Court of South Africa.’ 

For Ramraj, a Candidate Attorney at Werksmans Attorneys in Sandton, Johannesburg, the LLB has not only equipped her with a substantive knowledge of the law, but sharpened her critical thinking skills. 

‘This degree has taught me how to think and engage critically with the facts before me. I believe that this has seated me in good standing in my current position and future growth within the profession. During my degree, I received a Dean’s Commendation award for every semester, multiple Certificates of Merit, and UKZN merit scholarships. Still, the most memorable part of my experience was the unfortunate loss of loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. While not all losses related to COVID-19, what each taught me was that life is short, so live purposefully, take leaps of faith and your best every day.’

Sham, who is currently a first-year candidate attorney at Norton Rose Fulbright is passionate about equity and justice for all making a career in law the best choice for his future endeavours.

 ‘I have always been passionate about equity and justice for all and often got into trouble standing up for what I perceived to be the underdog. Law is a multifaceted and comprehensive approach to many aspects of life and society, and provides a solid foundational qualification to explore alternate paths later on. As a teenager, you may not always be absolutely sure of your desired career path. A Bachelor of Laws enables you to emerge with a qualification that will always stand you in good stead, no matter which field you may find yourself in later.’

Twenty-one-year-old Pillay is currently pursuing her Masters in Business Law with aspirations of specialising in the commercial sector. 

‘I intend to use my master’s degree to become an attorney, specialising in insurance and taxation, and one day become an academic. While working as a practicing attorney, I will embark upon my PhD. The overall vision that I have for my career is to make a difference in other people’s lives. I am passionate about helping people, which is what led me to pursue Law. Throughout my successful academic career, my faith has kept me grounded. I am a Young Adults Leader at Olive Tree Church and am actively involved in my community through planning, organising and facilitating charity events. This is my contribution to my community in an effort to make a difference in other people’s lives, whilst pursuing my postgraduate qualifications. God has been my driving force and has strengthened me throughout my entire academic career. He has provided at every stage of this journey and made it a joyous adventure, which has led me to achieve these results.’ 

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan

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