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Four student academic award recipients at the recent virtual annual academic student awards ceremony are top achievers in the world of computers and numbers.

Three of these students also received the Vice-Chancellor’s award for being the top students in their categories.

Ludévin Parkinson (top left) received the Vice-Chancellor’s award for the Best First Degree student for his BSc in Computer Science with an average of 97% overall. Luan Naude (top right) was the Best Postgraduate in Science, Engineering and Technology for his BSc honours in Mathematics with 93% overall and Jessica Schoeman (bottom right) was the Best First Diploma student for her Diploma in IT: Software Development with an average of 91%. Justin Tulleken (bottom left) eceived the First Degree Award in the Faculty of Engineering, the Built Environment and Technology,

For Ludévin, the most important aspect of Computer Science is problem solving as it is an invaluable skill that we apply daily in life. He is especially interested in Algorithms and Complexity Theory, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Interaction Design. Apart from those, Augmented Reality and Game Engineering are areas that he would like to explore more. He recently participate in his company's annual Game Jam and all the research done in preparation thereof has piqued his interest in game development.

He currently works at BBD Software Development in the graduate programme and is preparing for his AWS Developer Associate Certification.

Ludevin is currently doing front-end mobile development and has worked on various apps in recent times. As part of the Graduate Programme, he has completed smaller projects focussed on database fundamentals, fundamentals of several programming languages, web development fundamentals, service design and design patterns, and security fundamentals. The graduate programme provides a solid foundation of knowledge for the majority of his company's projects.

“I already have my dream job. I enjoy being part of a team that develops software and systems to improve quality of life. I would like to improve on my abilities and skills to the point where I could be labelled as a full stack developer, but to be honest, the thought of being a game developer at a well-recognised video game company or a software engineer at a tech giant such as Google does sound nice”, says Ludevin.

His current focus is on acquiring work experience in his field and complementing this experience with a postgraduate degree at a later stage. He continues to complete short courses and acquire certifications related to his career.

Covid-19 had a huge impact on completing his studies since the majority of his third year involved distance learning and a shift to continuous assessment. He found this beneficial, as more attention was placed on practical assessments which better prepared him for developing software as a fulltime job. Unfortunately, distance learning and lockdown also led to many mental challenges. It was, however, a great opportunity to develop an improved sense of responsibility for one’s personal educational advances.

“Overall, Covid-19 introduced a lot of challenges that ultimately led to a shift in mindset. It certainly made me appreciate the smaller things in life a lot more than I used to. Currently, the pandemic still influences my academic endeavours by forcing the graduate programme I am on to be conducted remotely as well and replacing face-to-face sessions which were fun and we could learn and grow together. Team building as one of the major strengths of the graduate programme is just not the same experience when working remotely.”

Ludevin started ice-skating in Pretoria and finds it the ideal breakaway from work. “I find it calming and good for mental health and exercise.”

He  was born in Gqeberha, went to Framesby High School and wants to one day return to the coast.

Luan’s top mark was 95% for Functional Analysis and Abstract Algebra. He is now focusing on functional analysis for his master’s because of its interesting concepts and techniques.

He used to have broad interests and didn't know what he wanted to study. It was only as he started doing maths at university that he found it was what he enjoyed the most. Nowadays he just focuses on learning more maths since there is so much to learn, he says.

“I hope to continue studying maths for a long time, and to share my love for the subject with others”, he says.

He is also a maths tutor and has been a student assistant for first years. “It's a lot of fun engaging with students on the material”, he says.

With Covid he just had to adjust to working from home, and managing his time without a fixed schedule.

Luan also went to Framesby High School and was in the academic Top 5 every year.

Jessica hopes to become a very successful software developer. “I always give my everything in what I do, I love animals and working with people, I like to help out where I can and I enjoy logical thinking and challenges”, she says.

Jessica was hired as a developer before she had even graduated, based on her work ethic and skills level. She is also the youngest staff member at Vaimo, an e-commerce company, on the Magento and Adobe Commerce Cloud platform with more than 500 employees. She works as an E-commerce Back-end Developer. Her favourite task is to create a new feature from scratch, planning new features for online stores together with her fellow colleagues and using their collective knowledge.

Jessica was the Top Programming Student, and Top First and Second-Year Student in her programme.

She is also the first in her family to graduate from university.

The online learning process was very difficult for her to adjust to, not having the connection with her classmates and lecturers, but it did teach her many skills and to be more disciplined in her work.  

I grew up always playing on the computer so it just felt natural to become part of a computer-related field. I like the challenge and thinking process and to watch your ideas come together into an app or piece of functionality to work with on the computer. “I love creating new things and it’s almost calming to me to programme, working with new things and making innovating ideas come to life. It’s creative, yet also technical which really appeals to me.

Her ultimate goal would be to work in industry for a while and then one day move into being a programming or CAT teacher, or even a lecturer. But she would also love to do some  volunteer work with animals and even have her own dessert bar or bakery.

Currently, she just wants to experience the software development industry and gain skills and experience to further develop herself and her career.

She lives in Kariega and matriculated at Riebeek College Girls’ High School where she was the top achiever in Grade 11 and 12. She was also a first-year success programme helper and SI leader for the programming module at Mandela Uni.

Justin wants to contribute to scientific research, but also hopes for a stimulating career that allows him to pursue his interests and hobbies freely.

Justin scored 79% overall for his BEng degree in Mechatronics and currently works at S4 Integration. He was part of the team which won Mandela University’s annual programming competition as well as reaching the national rounds of the ICPC and SBTIC competitions.

Some of my spare time has been spent doing computer science research, which I would like to publish, provided its results are promising.

Justin went to Pearson High school and was a member of the Eastern Province Mathematics team in grade 11 and 12.

Covid-19 only took effect during my final year of study, during which I needed to do a lot of self-study and research, so it did not have a significant effect on my studies.

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160