As the first twins to complete the SciMathUS programme, Rochelle and Jennelle Cloete serve as shining examples to disheartened matric students - that second chances can knock twice on the same door.
Stellenbosch University's SciMathUS University Preparation Programme gives high school learners who have 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 after they have successfully completed the programme.
The Eerste River siblings entered the SciMathUS programme in 2019 after discovering that their matric mathematics marks were not good enough to get accepted into SU for their intended course of study – a Bachelor's in Accounting (BAcc).
Rochelle recalls: “Our accounting teacher at Kleinvlei High School told us about the SciMathUS programme which we could apply for to improve our maths marks. And when we applied, both of us got accepted into the accounting stream."
Jennelle says the year-long programme was everything they hoped for and more.
“We gained a deeper understanding of maths and the basic principles thereof, which we had not had before. Thus, our maths marks improved exponentially. Consequently, we got accepted for our BAcc studies at SU the following year."
She says the programme also equipped them with academic literature and thinking skills as well as an introduction to economics and computer literacy skills, “which helped us in our undergraduate year as those basics were integrated in some of the modules for our degree".
Their SciMathUS journey also provided them with some valuable lessons which they do not hesitate to share with the class of 2023. “Do not be afraid to ask questions in class. Ask the lecturer for help if you are unsure about something, be it academic or personal. Stay up to date with your work and do your homework as required."
The sisters concede that their participation in the programme as twins had its advantages and disadvantages.
“One of the advantages was that we at least had each other in the beginning when the environment was new and strange. This was especially advantageous since we stayed in a hostel during that year for the first time in our lives," says Rochelle.
“One of the disadvantages was that we didn't really deem it necessary to make any new friends as we had each other. But in the end, we did actually make really good friends," says Jennelle.
The pair obtained their BAcc in 2022, but their SU journey is not over yet. Rochelle is planning on completing a postgraduate diploma in accounting this year, while Janelle will attempt her postgraduate studies in 2024. They plan to qualify as Chartered Accountants in the future.
And now, as they stand poised on the cusp of their dreams, the twins are full of gratitude for the SciMathUS programme that gave them the second chance to not only improve their maths marks and pursue their chosen degree, but also to change their lives forever.
"Thank you SciMathUs for helping us to take control of our future, and for making our parents proud of us again."