National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)

Peter Thompson

Peter Thompson from the Western Cape.


“Most, if not all science related fields depend on mathematics to some extent, and this allows for a diverse range of careers.”


Tell us a bit about your school

I went to York High School in George, in the Western Cape. There are approximately 875 students currently enrolled in the school. The school is co-educational and is in an urban area.

What were the biggest challenges you encountered at school that made it difficult for you to excel in maths and science? What did you do to overcome these challenges?

I did not have a great many challenges, but I was part of clubs within the school, so time management was a difficulty.

What advice do you have for matriculants who have to apply for places at higher education institutions?

I would advise matriculants to apply at two or more universities for their chosen course. I would also advise students to apply for two related courses within their chosen stream. This is so that even if they do not qualify for their chosen course, they may still be able to do most of their subjects and then switch to their chosen course in the following year. Further, I would urge all matriculants who know what they want to study, to not take a gap year, but rather start their studies as soon as possible.

Where do you see yourself five years from now, in terms of your studies/career?

I would still like to be studying in five years’ time.

When/how did you realise you enjoyed science and mathematics more than your other school subjects? Did anyone play an important part in this, such as a teacher, parent or other role models?

I realised that I enjoyed mathematics to a large extent during grade 11. I took Admaths at school and we started with calculus during grade 11 – I enjoyed the new concepts and methods of thinking. This led me to read books on mathematics and ultimately inspired me to study mathematics at university

What/who inspires you?

I do not have anyone specific who inspires me, but I rather take inspiration from the books I read, as well as from anyone who lived before me who went out of their way to achieve greatness.

Why did you choose the course you are studying now?

Firstly, I enjoy the thought process involved with mathematics and secondly I love how dynamic it is. Most, if not all science related fields depend on mathematics to some extent, and this allows for a diverse range of careers. I would thus be able to be part of research teams in varying streams outside of pure mathematics.

Any other stories/tips/ideas/advice you would like to share that would be helpful to learners in Grades 11 and 12?

I would advise grade 11 and 12 learners to work hard and develop healthy study routines, because university requires a large amount of diligence and dedication. More than purely “learning” though, I would advise learners to truly think – this is an invaluable skill that will ultimately get learners to where they want to be.

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