National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)

Emilia believes that in order to reach the top one should arm yourself with knowledge, do what you do best, have perseverance and strive to be worthy of recognition.

Emilia Janse van Rensburg matriculated at the Afrikaanse Hoër Meisieskool in Pretoria. She is studying medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand. She was selected as one of the students for the NSTF’s Brilliants Programme in 2022.


““I hope to have touched the lives of many in ten years’ time.”



Tell us a bit about your school?

I was in the Afrikaanse Hoër Meisieskool Pretoria (Affies). At Affies all the teachers and students work together to prepare us for the future. It is a school rich in tradition with a unique and distinctive culture, built on the hard work and dedication of a hundred and two years of Affies. It is at Affies that I learned how to work hard, yet efficiently and to follow my heart and curiosity.

Why do you think some people have a problem with math and science? What would you do to solve the problem?

Maths and Science are cumulative; falling behind means missing out on important concepts with every lesson. Not identifying issues early ons causes anxiety and poor performance.

Do not leap to the correct solution without analysing how you got there. Follow an appropriate approach with logic steps.

Why did you enjoy science and maths?

I find both maths and science challenging and interesting and it constantly keeps me on my toes. I am good with numbers, logical reasoning and enjoy solving problems. If I am finally able to solve a problem, it gives me a sense of accomplishment. I had a dedicated maths teacher who shared her love for the subject with us.

What inspires you?

Fulfilling my long-held dream to be the best doctor I can be, is my strongest motivation to study. Academic success opens unlimited opportunities, whether it is a scholarship or being able to follow your dream career. I challenge myself constantly and try to break the mould to reach the next level.

Why did you choose the course you are studying?

I have always been fascinated by the human anatomy and physiology. The discovery of new medical interventions and procedures captured my interest. I have a desire to serve my fellow men and would be honoured to be trusted with my patients’ lives.

A message to South African youth?

Arm yourself with knowledge, do what you do best, have perseverance and strive to be worthy of recognition.

Any tips for learners in grades 11 and 12?

Never lose hope and believe in yourself, especially when the going gets tough. Keep on top of the workload, make sure you understand the work done in class every day and ask for help if you don’t. Revise work daily and do assignments as quickly as possible to avoid falling behind. Be sure to look after yourself and still leave some time for relaxation.

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

Do research well ahead of time to ensure that you are aware not only of the requirements for each degree and institution, but also what the curriculum entails. Apply as soon as possible and dubbel check that you filled in all the required fields correctly. Apply to more than one institution if possible to improve your chance of being accepted. Always have a backup plan should you not be accepted for your first choice of study.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

I see myself as a well rounded and happy person. I wish to be a proud Witsie graduate with my MBBCh degree and a registrar post in my chosen field. I hope to have touched the lives of many in ten years’ time.

Understanding excellence – what makes an achiever?

An achiever is not only a hardworking individual with talent, but also someone with a vision. Achievers are driven by a strong desire and self believe. They see challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles. Achievers do not lose hope easily and keeps on trying until they achieve their goal.

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