National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)

Danielle wants to follow a career where she can interact with different people and share her joy with them.

Danielle is studying medicine at Stellenbosch University (SU). She matriculated at Pearson High School in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape.

“Big dreams require hard work.”


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


My name is Danielle Honiball and I am a first year medical student attending SU. I grew up in the friendly city of Gqeberha and spent my life thus far living along the coast. I was an athlete at school and still carry this passion with me as I completed my first half marathon the other day. I am a small-town dreamer with the whole world at my feet. I am easily inspired by the beauty of the world/nature that surrounds me. Something that is also fundamental to my inspiration is my family and friends. They are the mainstay of my life and thus making them proud is something that always inspires me to do my best and to reach my full potential.

Why did you choose the course you are studying?

I have always had a passion for people and helping them. I wanted to follow a career where I could interact with different people daily and share a piece of my joy with them. I wanted to pursue something where I could make a difference in people’s lives, while still challenging myself intellectually. Medicine is giving me the opportunity to do all the above.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

I am uncertain of what the future holds. Some of my aspirations for the next 10 years include marriage, travelling and potentially specialising in a specific medical field. Apart from achieving all my tangible goals, I also hope that in 10 years’ time I will be content, happy and living a life that feeds my soul.

Why do you enjoy science and maths?

I enjoy a challenge and thus it is self-evident that I find maths and science pleasurable. The hypothesis that the more maths and science you practice, the higher your capability in the subjects gets suits my personality as I am a very disciplined learner. Maths and science did not just teach me a way of thinking but a way of living as well: you encounter a complicated problem and you are required to simplify it. The feeling of accomplishment when solving a difficult problem is also one I thoroughly enjoy.

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

I attended Pearson High school situated in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape. I loved my school and all the opportunities that came hand-in-hand with it. My school gave me endless opportunities to better myself and for that I will always be thankful. I had top of the range teachers but someone who really planted the mathematical seed in my heart was my maths teacher. She loved maths and she transfused this love to her students. She had a way of making every difficult problem seem simple and I always admired her for that. She had the patience of Job with the most pleasant personality and if it was not for her, I would not be able to attain the marks that I did.

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

I feel that people struggle with mathematics and science as it requires discipline. I understand that some people are not scientifically orientated, but I personally feel that mathematics and science are skills that can be taught and learnt through dedication: the more you practice, the easier it gets. Some people however do not have the discipline/dedication to master these subjects and this leads to them facing difficulty.

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

Practice, practice, practice! Work out as many past papers as possible and make sure to memorise mathematical statements and scientific definitions.

Any tips for learners in grades 11 and 12?

Grades 11 and 12 are extremely busy and a stressful time in a young adult’s life. My advice is not to be hard on themselves. These learners are facing the end of their school careers and consequently there is a vast amount of pressure on them to perform. I would advise these learners to set achievable goals and celebrate the small victories. They need to prioritise good time management.  

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

My advice for anyone applying to a higher education institution is to contact the university of choice and familiarise themselves with the minimum academic requirements required for their courses of choice. Consequently, I would recommend learners to work hard to meet the above-mentioned academic requirements and maximise their chances of acceptance. Applying to university is already a stressful process and I would also advise learners to avoid distress by ensuring their application is not faulty.

Understanding excellence – what makes an achiever?

I have never been enthusiastic about labelling people and thus this term is hard for me to describe. An “achiever” can be defined as so many different things.  I however feel that an “achiever” is not just someone who achieves outstanding results, but also someone who sets out goals for themselves and works hard to achieve them. It is someone who shows courage, grit, and determination. I feel personally it is someone working to reach their full potential and able to take difficult issues in their stride. 

A message to South African youth in general?

“Laziness is the secret ingredient that goes into failure” – unfortunately big dreams require hard work and thus I want to encourage the youth of South Africa not to fear those big dreams due to laziness.

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

Michelle Obama. She is an advocate for women in modern society and if I ever get the privilege of meeting her, I would ask her how she stayed true to herself and beliefs when occurring in the limelight. The whole world is at her feet, yet she remains grounded and thus I would want to know how she manages not to let the pressure of the outside world influence her.

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