Mr Shikhar Jagunundan is congratulated by his parents for achieving a Bachelor of Dental Therapy degree summa cum laude.

Summa Cum Laude Pass for Dental Therapy Graduate

Mr Shikhar Jagunundan who graduated with a Bachelor of Dental Therapy degree summa cum laude, has a passion for combining science with art.

Jagunundan, who intends to continue with his postgraduate studies in Dental Therapy at UKZN, believes that hard work, perseverance, making sacrifices and most of all loving one’s career choice led him to this remarkable achievement.

Having grown up on the north coast of Durban, Jagunundan is currently employed at Dr D R Ganasee’s Dental Surgery in Stanger. The Golden Key Honour Society member experienced many challenges adjusting to the rapid transition from physical learning to the digital sphere during the Coronavirus shut down. ‘This led to a lack of attention during online classes as I was not accustomed to learning digitally.

The major challenge was the unstable network connection especially during periods of load-shedding. I felt that the difficulties with online teaching were both technical and ideological. I was often prone to procrastination, online learning was initially difficult to co-ordinate, and motivation sometimes proved to be a struggle,’ he said.

‘However, The Learn21/22 platform provided me with a single robust, secure, and integrated system which created a personalised learning environment. Online study materials were available through online lectures, and PDF and PowerPoint documents followed by eBooks, YouTube videos, and educational websites. In addition, Zoom meetings were able to be recorded and were made available for future reference on the Learn21/22 site. Online teaching was a more efficient platform since some assessments were graded instantaneously, which allowed for swift feedback and results, which was wonderful,’ commented Jagunundan.

Jagunundan said that UKZN provided him with a well-rounded education and experience. ‘The Discipline of Dentistry offered me high-quality professional education and service-based clinical training which laid the foundation for life-long professional development. The diverse range of community and hospital settings assisted me with learning and in refining my clinical skills, while delivering optimal oral health-care to surrounding communities. The Academic Dental Health Training Centre at King Dinuzulu Hospital was the core clinical platform; clinical care and training activities also took place on the Phelophepa Health Care Train (Darling, Cape Town) and in the Ngwelezane Tertiary Hospital,’ he said.

Jagunundan who enjoys meditation and yoga on a daily basis, sailing, cooking and fine dining as well as playing volleyball, basketball and hiking, thanked his parents for inspiring him in so many ways to achieve success. He said, ‘I learned from my parents that adversity does not have to break us. Do not let it define you. Try to focus on the lesson, not the pain. Don’t ever let that darkness keep you from finding beauty in the world. One of the most important values I learned from my parents is that true beauty comes from within. Being kind and compassionate, helping others without expectations, that’s what makes you a beautiful person. I am very grateful to my parents for giving me so many amazing values. Thank you, mom and dad. Thank you for raising me to become the strong young man I am today!’

Words: MaryAnn Francis

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal