Mr Shaheen Thakur, a student from the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES), graduated with an MSc in Geography.
His decision to study at UKZN was largely based on the academic excellence that the University is recognised for. ‘I learned about UKZN’s popularity as a high-quality institution that provides experienced, qualified and high level of academics, research and facilities for its students. Therefore UKZN was my first choice,’ said Thakur who completed both his undergraduate and Honours degrees in Geography and Environmental Management at UKZN, and most recently, an MSc degree in Geography.
‘These degrees have influenced my career path towards becoming a researcher in the field of human geography, urban and rural development, as well as environmental planning in South Africa,’ he said.
His research focused on the green economy and enviropreneurship as well as the role environmental non-government organisations (ENGOs) have in promoting sustainable household solid waste management and recycling practices within impoverished South African peri-urban communities.
‘My research achieved this by critically assessing the influence and sustainability of an ENGO community-based recycling intervention on household solid waste management and recycling practices in three peri-urban communities in Pietermaritzburg,’ he said.
His passion for human geography and understanding urban-rural development dynamics led to him being awarded a National Research Foundation (NRF) scholarship.
His research has contributed in bringing to revealing that the integration of green economy approaches in ENGO led community-based interventions in South Africa and Africa requires further development and application in order to be successful.
While studying for his MSc was challenging, Thakur still managed to overcome these obstacles and achieve academic success. ‘One has to possess passion, resilience and self-worth in order to obtain a Master’s degree. Always remember that you are doing this for yourself, so invest in yourself and break your limits in order to reap the benefits like a true academic soldier,’ said Thakur.
He is currently pursuing his PhD in Geography and is involved with the eThekwini Municipality.
‘My future plans are to complete my PhD, apply for a post-doctoral position at UKZN and become a lecturer or research scientist in the field of Geography and Environmental management,’ said Thakur.
His parents are proud of their son’s achievement.
Words: Zolile Duma
Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal