National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)

Lutendo Portia Rambevha would like to dedicate herself to medicine and change lives.

Lutendo Portia is studying medicine at the University of Cape Town. She matriculated at Thengwe High School in Limpopo.

“My main aim is to empower the youth in my community, not only by providing them with jobs but also armouring them with knowledge on how to take care of their physical, mental and spiritual health.”

Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you? What inspires you?


I am Lutendo Portia Rambevha, 18, a first-year student at the University of Cape Town, aspiring to be a qualified doctor in six years’ time. I am from the Dzingahe Village in Thohoyandou, Limpopo Province. My hobbies include skipping rope and listening to music (I find music so relaxing!). I love interacting with people and learning new things from them. I am a humble, confident, determined, passionate young girl who believes in hard work. What inspires me is seeing young black South Africans using education as a weapon to fight against poverty and discrimination. This fuels my desire to pursue knowledge not only to improve myself and the people in my community but to change the world.

Where did you complete your schooling?  Tell us about this school and your teachers.

I completed my matric in Thengwe High School, in the Tshandama village, Limpopo. It is a well-known public school in my area that produces top learners in the country. I was privileged to go study there, because the teachers are so motivated and enthusiastic, that their enthusiasm and motivation inspired us learners. My matric teachers were so active and encouraging. My teachers reinforced my love for maths and science!

Why did you choose the course you are studying?

I have always wanted to be a doctor from a very young age. I believe that health is one of the most important things in life, because only healthy people can succeed to their full potential. I also believe that there are still a lot of things to be discovered about this piece of art called the human body. I chose to study medicine because I have this strong desire to learn more about the human body and how it works so that I can help people not only in my community, but also worldwide.

I would like to be one of the doctors who entirely dedicates themselves to medicine and changing lives. My dream is to work with expert doctors in the world and provide solutions to medical health problems, including finding better treatment for cancer and HIV.  I understand healthcare is not accessible in poorly developed countries. My aim is to make healthcare accessible to such areas starting in my own country South Africa. I do not want to be a ‘doctor’, I want to be an individual dedicated to making healthcare accessible.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

I would like to see myself specialising in gastroenterology. Besides that, I see myself leading a few organisations, such as one for promoting health in my community, raising awareness on how to live a healthy lifestyle. My main aim is to empower the youth in my community, not only by providing them with jobs but also armouring them with knowledge on how to take care of their physical, mental and spiritual health. Indirectly, I believe this organisation would be fighting against crime, unemployment and substance abuse among young people. My vision further includes providing bursaries for learners who cannot afford to study in higher educational institutions and being a role model for other young people through serving my community.

Why do you enjoy science and maths?

Maths and science sharpen our ability to think critically and find solutions to problems. The world is constantly changing and heading towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), advancing in both research and technology where maths and science dominate. I enjoy maths and science because I understand that they are useful in my line of work and will also be of value in this developing world, even in the next centuries!

Why do you think some people have problems doing well in maths and science?

I personally struggled with maths and science in high school. I had to practise more and more to fully understand the concepts. Some learners may not perform well in these subjects because they are not receiving enough support at home or the environment at home is not conducive for studying. In some schools the learners do not have enough resources to learn e.g., a shortage of maths and science teachers, textbooks, chalkboards, WiFi, etc. Teachers can also impact a learner’s performance.  Social media plays a role in discouraging learners by painting maths and science as “difficult” subjects. Frequent exposure to such social media posts can make a learner lose their interest in these subjects and therefore not perform to their outmost best. Research has shown that learners who perform poorly in these subjects spend more time on social media and therefore have less time to study.

What advice do you have for school learners who struggle with these subjects?

I would advise them to study maths and science every day to perform better because I personally found these to be my most time demanding subjects. I believe in hard work, and practice makes perfect!  They must reach out to their teachers if there is anything they do not understand, or try to find someone else to help them in these subjects during their free time i.e., a classmate who understands better in class. They also need to find strategies of fighting against social media addiction. Training themselves to have a good study timetable will help minimise wastage of time. There are many available resources for learning maths and science on the internet including YouTube. I would really recommend that they engage with these if they have internet connection. Lastly, I would advise them to believe in themselves and understand that there is always room for improvement, and they should just fall in love with maths and science!

Any tips for learners in grades 11 and 12?

Of course!

TIP 1: Believe in yourself and try to improve yourself every day. YOU are your own competition.

TIP 2:  Have goals and aim high, the sky is the limit! Before writing an exam or test have a certain mark you would like to achieve.

TIP 3: Pay attention in class and always ask questions where you do not understand.

TIP 4: Discuss the content with classmates and try to attempt past question papers together.

TIP 5: Prioritise subjects. Some subjects are more demanding than others. Balancing subjects is important.

TIP 6: Study maths and science every day. Consistency is key!

TIP 7: Use as many resources you have at your disposal. YouTube videos, teachers, classmates, textbooks and past question papers.

TIP 8: After reading a certain chapter, use past questions papers (at least 5) to answer questions on that chapter to see if you really understood and to see how the questions are structured in the exam.

TIP 9: Start revising for the exam early and do as many past question papers as you can.

TIP 10: Get some sleep. A tired brain cannot absorb new information.

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

Firstly, I would advise them to apply as early as possible and to as many universities they can to increase their chances of being accepted. They should not look down on themselves and stop applying to the universities of their choice because they didn’t do well in their end of year grade 11 report. Before they apply, they should do thorough research on the career path they would like to pursue. When learners choose their field of study they tend to be influenced by their parents and friends. Hence, it is advisable that when they apply, they should put their interests first and follow their dream. Finally, they must apply for bursaries to have a good financial support system.

Understanding excellence – what makes an achiever?


I believe an achiever is a person who is hard working, has perseverance, discipline and a goal-focused mindset. An achiever is a person who has accomplished something remarkable which will not only benefit themselves but the people around them through their hard work.  A wise man once said that an achievement is something which is beneficial even to the generations yet unborn.

A message to South African youth in general?

Three words: INVEST IN EDUCATION. It is a pity that during my matric year (2022) there was apparently a dropout rate of 31.8%, which is approximately 330 000 pupils. Our generation is perishing because of lack of knowledge and also compromising the future of the generations yet unborn.

If you had ONE opportunity to speak directly to a very influential person, who would you choose and what would you say to them?

I would choose to speak to Prof Mashudu Tshifularo, a South African educator and otolaryngologist who led the first team in the world to use 3D-printed bones for reconstructive middle ear implants in 2019 at the University of Pretoria and Steve Biko Academic Hospital. He is my role model and has helped so many young South Africans in their academic journeys. I would tell him that he has inspired me to not only be passionate about medicine but also discover new things because there is still a lot to be uncovered! I would certainly ask him to tell me more about his journey in reaching high heights and about the secret behind his success. Such an inspiration; from a deep rural area to the world and being the hope of many souls.

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