National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)

Bronson Rudner studying BSc (Mathematics, Physics and Applied Maths)

Bronson Rudner, from the Western Cape, is studying BSc in Mathematics, Physics and Applied Maths at the University of Cape Town. He went to the South African College School (SACS) from grades 1 through 12.

“I am inspired by anyone who has overcome hardships to achieve outstanding results… Seeing [Andrew Tucker who overcame a life-threatening condition and achieved first place in the matric exams] made me realise I had no excuse for not doing my best.”

At school, did anyone play an important role in your interest in maths and science?

Eloise Baker, the enrichment teacher at my junior school, made a huge impact. She helped to broaden my horizons, and helped develop my logical and critical thinking and reasoning. In grade 8, I was also invited to the UCT Mathematical Circle by Professor John Webb, where he taught us a lot more about mathematics and mathematical problem solving. These were some of my first extracurricular mathematics lessons, and they helped me to achieve much more than I otherwise could have.

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

In physics and maths, make sure you completely understand your work, so that it makes logical and intuitive sense to you. It’s far easier to understand your work than to have to memorise everything.

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by anyone who has overcome hardships to achieve outstanding results. For my matric year, I was inspired by Andrew Tucker, who was a grade ahead of me at SACS. He overcame a life-threatening condition in his matric year to achieve first place in the matric exams of 2015. Seeing him do that made me realise I had no excuse for not doing my best. It encouraged me to work much harder in my matric year than in any other year before. I even made sure to copy his method of doing 7 past papers for every subject. I was thrilled that it paid off.

Why did you choose the course you are studying now?

I was considering actuarial science; however, I learned that while it was financially rewarding, it wasn’t particularly rewarding in any other way. Thus, I decided to study mathematics and science, as those had always interested me. While I might not be as financially successful, I will at least enjoy myself – and I feel that is what is most important.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

I hope to study for as long as I can as learning is very enjoyable. If I’m not studying, I think I will be working as an academic, or otherwise in software development.

Understanding excellence – what makes an achiever?

I think you need to have a clear idea of what your goal is and why you want to achieve that goal. You need to actually want to achieve your goal. If your ‘goal’ is just something your parents told you to do, that’s not really a goal that will come to fruition. If you are half-hearted about your goal or don’t have a strong desire to achieve said goal, you’re unlikely to achieve it.

A message to South African youth?

Work hard at what you do, but make sure you enjoy yourself in the process. You can’t relive your time at school once it’s over, so make it count. Also, remember to give back to society. If we all pitch in and focus on building rather than destroying, our country can only get better and better. The NSTF Brilliants Programme recognises 18 first-year students (a male and female from each province) studying in the science, medicine and engineering fields. These students have received top marks in mathematics and physical science in the National Senior Certificate Examinations last year. (This year there are 20 students.)

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