Stellenbosch University
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'SciMathUS, paving the way to my MBA'
Author: Modesty Lewis
Published: 09/06/2021

What a pleasant journey it has been! I was born and bred in Paarl. I grew up in a family of five and I am the youngest of three children. In my Grade 10 year I had the conversation with my parents about my future plans. I soon became aware that my parents were not able to support any form of study financially and that I had to work hard in order to reach my dreams. Even though the competition amongst my peers was tough, I managed to find myself in the top 10 each year and also top student in mathematics; maths was always my favourite. When I finally got to my matric year, I thought I was ready to go out into the world and become a Mechanical Engineer. Little did I know that I was not equipped to overcome the national maths exam paper until I was staring it in the face. Disappointment filled my heart and sorrow filled my eyes as I realised that I will not be able to accomplish what I have planned.

Even though I applied to SciMathUS as a back-up plan earlier that year, it never crossed my mind that I would actually need it. I thank God for the teacher that told me about this bridging course because this was the second chance that I needed. I was lost as my plans fell apart and I was not willing to settle for something I had no interest in. Furthermore, this was also the start of a new journey in my life as I said goodbye to my high school career and started on a fresh expedition with the SciMathUS team, not knowing what will happen.

My SciMathUS year was probably the best year of teenage life. I was able to experience campus life and make new friends from all over South Africa, while working towards my adjusted goals. Meeting new people and building relationships is the first thing that stood out for me. You were able to speak your mind, while still respecting others, ask questions and then ask again if you still didn't understand. The teachers were very supportive and easy to work with. I always tell people that SciMathUS opened a door in my mind that I didn't know existed.

The other programmes were also to our advantage, especially mine. We did an introductory course to Engineering Drawings which really helped when I started my first year in engineering. The computer course helped with navigating the University website as well as basic skills like e-mails, Excel and Word. The communication programme developed my skills to write reports and draft proper e-mails that displayed professionalism. We were really spoiled with all of these skills and all we had to do was show up and work hard.

SciMathUS gave me preliminary exposure to campus life and how to handle it in conjunction with the studies. The programme also provided the necessary support system required to equip myself for university studies. The teachers provided sufficient guidance and taught us new and more efficient ways of studying which I was able to use during my undergraduate studies.

After I completed my Mechanical Engineering degree, I started working as a Junior Engineer at GRW-Engineering in Worcester. 2021 will be my 8th year at the company and I have been promoted numerous times and currently holds the position of Product Design Engineer. Furthermore, my passion for people and leadership has led me to embark on the MBA journey which I completed at the end of 2020.

For those that might end up in the same boat as me after matric, consider SciMathUS! Even if you just need a back-up plan, SciMathUS could be it. A bridging course is not a disgrace. It is simply an alternative route to achieve your dreams and I am proof of that. SciMathUS changed my life. I was able to substantially improve my marks and was granted a university bursary to cover my tuition. A few months into my studies, I received a full scholarship for my entire course. It was not a walk in the park to get where I am today. I had to work hard and made some difficult sacrifices, but in the end it was worth it. ​