National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)

Dester De Salegn – a scientist in the making

Dester Weltegebriel De Salegn is studying towards a BSc Biological Sciences degree at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). She hails from Elukwatini in Mpumalanga. Dester was selected as one of the students for the NSTF’s Brilliants Programme in 2021.



”Believe in yourself; get a head start if you have the opportunity”

Tell us a bit about your school ?


My school is classified as quintile 1. It is located in a rural township. It strives to provide the best for its learners.

Why did you choose the course you are studying?

I have an interest in genetics. My interest started in grade 12 when we did the topic in life sciences. I realised I love life sciences and genetics and I was good at it. I did some research on genetics and decided that I will turn it into my career. I was also good in and loved chemistry and my initial choice before I found out about genetics was to pursue a career in chemistry. I then realised that I wanted to major in chemistry too, thus I’m doing a double major.

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

Know what you want and go for it. Gather as much information as you can before making a decision.

What inspires you?

I like reading books that fill me with knowledge and books that entertain. An example of this is a book that I once read called The Book Thief. It was entertaining and educational at the same time. I am not a sports person but I do play chess once in a while. I often exercise by doing some stretches to keep my body fit. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. I struggle with communication as I am an introverted person, but that doesn’t stop me from communicating and assertively sharing my opinions.

Any tips for learners in grades 11 and 12?

Believe in yourself, get a head start if you have the opportunity, you can always learn something from everyone, listen and respect those around you.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

I plan on majoring in genetics and developmental biology and biochemistry. I am very passionate and confident in my field of study. I look forward to joining the world of work and getting a better insight into my interests. I will also work towards improving the personal aspects of my life. I am a scientist in the making.

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