Mitch's story, like most of our students, starts with the day that he received his matric results. The results would not allow him to pursue his dreams and be selected to the studies of his choice at Stellenbosch University. During a High School career Expo in Robertson, Mitch was introduced to Conservation Ecology through the Graham and Rhona Beck Skills Centre. This field immediately sparked an interest in Mitch, and he contacted the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences at Stellenbosch University trying to look for an alternative route into tertiary education. This is when Monika Basson at AgriSciences informed Mitch about the SciMathUS programme. Mitch confesses how grateful he was of this recommendation, as this was the start of the journey which would lead him to where he is today.
Looking back on his SciMathUS year in 2011, Mitch mentions that sharing a house with some of his classmates had a particularly positive impact on him. He attributes a lot of his success at SciMathUS to the camaraderie and support he and his peers experienced. His academic achievements at the end of that year rewarded him with a sufficient merit bursary and in 2012, Mitch started his studies at the Faculty of AgriSciences. Despite challenges along the way, he was granted an AgriSeta bursary in his third year. This was again made possible by recommendation of Monika Basson, who had now supported Mitch from the beginning of his academic career.
Mitch graduated in 2019 after finishing his final year in 2018 after which he was fortunate to secure a brief internship at Boschendal. He later accepted a position at the Flower Valley Conservation Trust and moved to Gansbaai. He started there as an Assistant Farm Manager in June 2019 and was later offered the position of Extension Manager of the greater Overberg region. Mitch works closely with the Department of Environmental Affairs and his responsibilities include managing teams in sustainable harvesting as well as the clearing of alien and invasive plant species in this area.
Although he is not sure where the future will take him, Mitch is content in life and his work. He especially mentions how happy he is to be working in nature. When he reflects on the role that SciMathUS played in his development as a student and person, he passionately says, “It was more than studying the subjects, Mathematics and Physical Sciences. This programme equipped me with determination and critical thinking skills in order to look at the world differently."
Mitch attests to the fact that being part of the SciMathUS programme introduced him to higher education lifestyle and helped him to navigate his degree with much more confidence and lots of motivation. He is grateful to the staff of SciMathUS for providing him with tools that he is still making use of as a young, employed graduate. He explicitly wishes to convey his gratitude to Ms Monika Basson, who introduced him to the programme and Dr Natasja Brown at Agriscience who always had an open door policy for him to consult. All the people mentioned above played a pivotal role in moulding the person he is today.