Thato Thapo, with his hair dyed red, believes there’s no secret to succeeding in the matric final exams.
The 17-year-old, who matriculated from St Matthews School in Rockville, Soweto achieved six distinctions, including 100% in physical science.
“I wouldn’t say there’s a secret. It was just pure talent, but not disregarding hard work,” he said on Friday morning at the Nokuthula Centre and Special School in Lyndhurst, Johannesburg, where Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi honoured the best-performing schools and pupils.
“I don’t think we have to find secrets to such things. If you find something you love, just do your best,” he said.
Thapo, who was head boy at his school, said the biggest challenge for him was to juggle the workload, his leadership duties, debating, chess, as well as his duties serving on various committees.
He plans on studying towards a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and computer science at the University of Cape Town this year, and dreams of obtaining a PhD in physics one day.
But, he said, he didn’t want to limit himself to a career just in physics.
“I don’t want to stay stuck in one thing. In 15 years’ time, I want to be able to choose what I do out of my own free will. But the main thing is being a brilliant physicist,” he said.
‘Life is an equation’
His classmate, Bongane Sigauque, 18, who also obtained six distinctions and achieved 100% in physics, said he wanted to study towards a degree in actuarial science at the University in Witwatersrand in Johannesburg this year.
His secret to success?
“Life is an equation. It was hard work, dedication and having a dream. That all equals success,” he said.
After obtaining his degree and becoming an actuary one day, Sigauque wants to create jobs.
“I want to give people solutions. I want to employ people, create jobs,” he said.
Jacqueline Janse van Rensburg, from Hoërskool Oos-Moot in Pretoria, was the top-performing matriculant in Gauteng. She received nine distinctions, including the third best mark in Advanced Programme Mathematics in the country.
Janse van Rensburg said she was “overwhelmed” by her achievement.
“I was hoping for it, but I didn’t expect [to be the top performer],” she said.
She will be attending the University of Pretoria where she will study medicine.