Timothy Juries is well on his way to establishing himself in the animal science sector after the Stellenbosch University SciMathUS programme offered him a second chance at higher education study.
The SciMathUS university preparation programme gives high school learners who have already passed Grade 12 but do not qualify for higher education selection, a second opportunity to improve their National Senior Certificate (NSC) results in mathematics, physical sciences and accounting. This will enable them to re-apply for university programmes.
Having been involved in the Stellenbosch University Centre for Pedagogy's (SUNCEP) Eskom Expo for Young Scientists throughout high school where he rubbed shoulders with staff, lecturers and researchers, Juries was set on furthering his studies there. But poor matric marks thwarted that plan.
“I did not know what to do and where to go and became very depressed. I was running out of options but then I discovered the video of Dr Gerald Maarman (who was in the SciMathUS class of 2003 and is today a lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences). I immediately called my mom, but couldn't get through to her. But meanwhile she was trying to contact me because she saw an advertisement (about the programme) in Die Burger. That was enough motivation for me to give it a go."
He was accepted into the SciMathUS class of 2013 and managed to double his grades for mathematics and physical science at the end of the year-long programme.
“I am very grateful that I got this opportunity. In the beginning I was a bit demotivated because my friends started as full time students while I couldn't. But I am grateful to my SciMathUS mentor, Mr Lynthon Jacobs, who motivated us to do better."
Juries says the programme further exposed him to university life and strengthened his decision to remain at SU.
In 2017, Juries embarked on a BSc (Molecular Biology and Biotechnology) degree but then switched to a PGDip in AgriSciences “because I realised that my passion lies in the animal sciences sector". He then completed a MSc in Aquaculture (Animal Sciences) in 2021 “as I saw great potential for future research and job opportunities in this field".
He is currently working as an assistant hatchery manager at Three Streams Holdings in Franschhoek where he is responsible for overseeing the hatching of trout ova (eggs) and their growth.
“In this position I am hands-on involved in the process and it is challenging me to think out of the box and to be innovative to increase output and production. I am also gaining a lot of experience that you don't get as a student."
Juries, who hails from the Western Cape town of Atlantis where unemployment, lack of housing and crime are major challenges, said: “I come from an environment where the fastest and easiest way to make a living is to join a gang and to take part in criminal activities. I had to swim against the tide to get where I am today. I can only thank my family and teachers who supported and motivated me along the way, and, of course, SciMathUs which I see as a lifeline for kids growing up in environments where I came from."