National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)

Sharon Ellman

Sharon is from Gauteng and is studying BSc (Environmentaland Engineering Geology) at the University of Pretoria.

“The idea of one day being able to contribute to the world in a meaningful and lasting way inspires me. Science is how I can do this.”

When/how did you realise you enjoyed science and mathematics more than your other school subjects?

I realized from a very early age that I enjoyed mathematics and science. The concepts in these subjects came to me very easily. My parents encouraged me to pursue any fields I found interesting and my grandfather fuelled this interest. Excellent primary school teachers ensured a solid foundation and equally enthusiastic high school teachers continued this trend. An increased awareness of the sciences in media ensured that my interest stayed strong.

Tell us a bit about your school.

I was in Pretoria High School for Girls. There are roughly 1500 students enrolled from grades 8 to 12. It is in an urban area. I think it’s special in many ways. Discipline is important as well as nurturing. All the teachers who taught me truly cared about us pupils and were willing to go the extra mile to ensure we understood the work. They provided a great support system.

Why did you choose to study environmental and engineering geology?

Geology combines mathematics, physics and chemistry, my favourite topics. The field itself interests me and I believe many opportunities lie ahead.

Anything advice you would like to share that would be helpful to learners in Grades 11 and 12?

Stay up-to-date with work and make sure you understand every concept before moving on. Make time to relax too though, don’t let yourself burn out.

Did you encounter any challenges that made it difficult for you to excel in maths and science?

The extra hour classes I took in mathematics were very time consuming and at rather strange hours. Ensuring that I always stayed up to date with my work ensured that my high school experience continued to run smoothly.

What/ Who inspires you? 

The idea of one day being able to contribute to the world in a meaningful and lasting way inspires me. Science is how I can do this.

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

Still studying for my Master’s in geology or soil science.

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

Be open to change. Accept that hard work lies ahead of you and remember your goals. Work hard and play moderately. Apply everywhere and take any and all opportunities that come your way.

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