Geekulcha rewards young IT leaders

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olanda Mabusela accepting her Best Female Leader award at last year's GKSS Awards. She's flanked by Geekulcha's Sina Legong (L) and Kedibone Masuku of the NYDA
olanda Mabusela accepting her Best Female Leader award at last year's GKSS Awards. She's flanked by Geekulcha's Sina Legong (L) and Kedibone Masuku of the NYDA

The Geekulcha Student Society (GKSS) awards were hosted on Wednesday night, recognising those who provided leadership in their institutions in 2020.

Yolanda Mabusela, deputy chairperson of the student society chapter at the Vaal University of Technology, was awarded the GKSS leader of the year.

According to Mukondli Dumela, judge and winner of the Best Educational Solution at MTN App of Year Awards for his Xitsonga dictionary app, Mabusela embodied the ‘rare combination of geek and leader’.

Dumela added that Mabusela had inspired many of her fellow students, both in her Geekulcha position and as a Microsoft Learn student ambassador, as well as through her Social Geeks podcast. Mabusela was also recently involved in organising the inaugural Student Build Conference, to equip students with the tech skills to grow the economy.

The event included video messages from industry heavyweights such as Mteto Nyati; group CEO of Altron, and Dr McLean Sibanda, MD of Bigen Global Limited. In a short message, Nyati told attendees, “I wasn’t always CEO, I started as a student like you, but I had dreams and I acted on them. We all have the potential to realise our dreams, never stop chasing them. I’m rooting for you.”

Bigen Global Limited’s Sibanda added: “I used to see Tiyani (Geekulcha COO) and Mixo (founder and CEO) walking around when I was still CEO at the Innovation Hub and eventually found out what they do; I was inspired by their passion, selflessness and dream of making an impact on young people’s lives.”

“The Student Society is an important part of what Geekulcha does because it needs to consider what industry skills are needed tomorrow. How can we prepare the youth for those future demands? It should start at home but we lack those resources as a country and platforms such as Geekulcha help address that lack, showing the youth how they can be involved in the digital economy.”

The night’s other winners included:

*Best GKSS Female Leader: Amantle Mashele, Belgium Campus’s chairperson. She was praised for her active role in solutions development at hackathons.

*Best Industry/Gov Mentor: The joint winners were Steve Jump, founder and director at Custodiet Advisory Services; and Dr Paul Plantinga, research specialist at the Human Sciences Research Council.

*Best Industry Partner: ITWeb Brainstorm. Presenting the award Keitumetsi Tsotetsi, Geekulcha’s CIO and cyber security risk assurance manager at PwC, said many opportunities had been created through this partnership. “Industry partners bring knowledge to our community. They also expose us to opportunities and help us network with professionals. ITWeb and Brainstorm have helped communicate what we’re doing in empowering geeks.”

*Best Project/StartupCreated: S.H.E (Safe home for Everyone), an anti-gender-based violence (GBV) app to educate women and children on getting help and taking action against GBV. The app was created by GKSS Unisa students Carol Khoza and sisters Naomi and Christine Bisimwa during the Microsoft Safe@Home Hackathon in October. They also won TADHack Johannesburg 2020 for their tourism gamification app, Xplorer.

*Best GKSS Chapter of 2020:Awarded to both the GKSS chapters at the Sol Plaatje University and the Tshwane University of Technology for adapting to the changes brought by COVID-19.The chapters were commended for keeping the Geekulcha community connected through virtual platforms during the pandemic.

*Best Support Lecturer: Awarded to Sol Plaatje University’s Eva Mamabolo for the second year running. Mamabolo was recognised for supporting her computer science and IT students both during class time and after hours.

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