Being accountable for what you want to achieve in life, was the overriding lesson Jumien Peceur learnt during his year as a student in Stellenbosch University's SciMathUS university preparation programme – a lesson that continues to serve him well to this day.
Peceur entered the SciMathUS class of 2006 after matriculating from New Orleans High School as, by his own admission, “an average learner with a lack of ambition and drive".
“It dawned on me fairly late that there is a whole world after high school and that this world demands something of me. But I did not have the tools or maturity to identify what I needed to allocate, in terms of time and personal sacrifice, to achieve the requisite grades to enter a university. As a result, my matric results were not good enough to study my choices of either science, engineering or medicine.
“I did not know about SciMathUs until a classmate told me about his sister who completed the programme. I then decided to apply."
He said his SciMathUS journey was an eye-opening experience which taught him that second chances and opportunities are scarce and that you must take advantage of it.
“It was made clear from the start and throughout the entire year, that it was not our right to be there, that it was a privilege and that we were not entitled to it. This was the biggest lesson for me: the fact that the world does not owe me anything and that hard work eventually is rewarded. This concept of personal responsibility changed my outlook on the world."
As a result, Peceur was better prepared for his first year than most first-year students and went on to obtain a BSc in Geology from SU in 2010.
“I started my career the following year (2011) at a petroleum resource regulating agency. Thereafter I moved to a mineral processing company where I started out as an intern and over the next 10 years worked myself up the corporate ladder into a senior management role. I'm currently the general manager at this organisation."
'It is our duty to make sure that programmes such as SciMathUs thrive'
But he said the challenges in the corporate world were and continue to be immense.
“I entered the labour market with ideas of grandeur and arrogance but was soon reminded that I had no experience or pedigree to fall back on. I felt exactly the same way as I did after high school, an average graduate with nothing but a piece of paper to my name. But this time, however, thanks to SciMathUs, I had the tools and maturity to put my head down and put in the work, which I continue to do."
It is this mantra of hard work paying off which he wants to pass on to those who want to leave their mark on the world.
“The saying, '10% inspiration and 90% perspiration', holds true. You have to put in the work to become what you dream of being. Let the ego go sometimes because nine times out of 10, it won't do you any good. Get to know yourself and realise that success does not happen overnight. It takes time."
He also appealed to SciMathUS alumni to do their bit to plough back into the programme.
“We know what SciMathUs has done for us and we know how our lives and the lives of our families have changed as a direct result of being given a second chance. We also know what SciMathUs does for the country, by adding productive, ambitious, nation builders to our society. It is our duty to make sure that programmes such as SciMathUs thrive so that each new generation of South Africans have the opportunity that we had. Let's honour this duty by donating to this programme in any way we can. “
The Paarl native is currently studying towards an MSc in Economic Geology and is also a registered professional natural scientist.