National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)

Zandile Mbonxa

Zandile is from Gauteng and is studying BSc (Veterinary Sciences) at the University of Pretoria.


 “As a passionate young girl I felt that it was exactly where I needed to be”


Tell us a bit about yourself and your school

I am Zandile Patience Mbonxa, a 19-year old girl studying veterinary science at UP. I come from what was previously known as “South Africa’s biggest informal settlement”, Orange Farm South of Johannesburg. I started high school in 2009 at a local public school, Leshata Secondary School. This is a very small school with approximately 1000-1200 learners enrolled. It is a very good school that has produced excellent results throughout the years and as a passionate young girl I felt that it was exactly where I needed to be.

Why did you choose to study veterinary sciences?

I am very passionate about the wonderful things science does to alleviate pathogens that cause destruction to organisms. What better way to learn about all of this than to actually study an interesting course like Veterinary Sciences with its diverse species. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, through Leshata Secondary School, turned this dream into a reality by funding my studies since Grade 12.

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

Five years from now I hope to be doing my final year at Ondersterpoort Veterinary Academic Hospital.

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?

It is at Leshata Secondary School where I discovered my potential, and most importantly my love for science. Discovering science was not just a spontaneous thing, it took a lot of mentorship from my teachers. From an early age I knew that I wanted to become a health practitioner, the biggest question has always been why?

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 was raised by my aunt, who wasn’t employed. My parents lived and worked away from home, taking any job available to feed us. The biggest challenge was when they both lost their jobs in January last year when I started my matric. My entire family depended on my aunt’s disability grant. Adapting to the change was a real obstacle, but I managed to survive through the help of my teachers who made sure that my basic needs where taken care of. I really suffered a lot of stress but I never deviated from my main goal.

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

I applied on time at tertiary institutions and this is what I would advise every Grade12 learner to do. Here’s an important message for the guys coming to varsity next year: It will not be easy at first because this is a totally different environment and adapting to how things are done will not be easy, but never forget your goal and that you are here because you are capable of achieving great things.

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