Theresa Brummer (18) has made her mark as one of Port Elizabeth’s exceptional young achievers, ready to make an impact in the field of medicine.
Theresa, a Collegiate Girls’ High School matriculant, was named the top pupil in the Eastern Cape Province at a gala dinner held at the East London International Convention Centre on Wednesday evening (6 January). She achieved eight distinctions overall - seven of them for maths, science, biology, Afrikaans, English, French and Life Orientation. Her eighth distinction was for Admaths, which was her IEB subject.
“I am so happy about my results. Hard work does pay off in the end,” said an elated Theresa.
Theresa’s advice to other youngsters is that even though school work is important, if you don’t get the results you want, work hard at turning a negative into a positive and set yourself new goals.
“Even if you fail, you can improve the next time. It is important to set your own goals and work towards them. Do what excites you, rather than trying to please someone else.”
Theresa was awarded a SANRAL bursary in 2014. She was selected because her results were excellent, and for an essay she wrote on her future goals in which she spoke about the science-based careers she was considering.
SANRAL and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) have hosted the Science, Technology, Engineering and related Management/Mathematics (STEM) Fields Pipeline Project since 2000. The primary objective of the initiative is to promote and develop the physical science skills of learners in grades 10 to 12 in the Eastern Cape, and to ultimately increase the number of learners qualifying to study for degrees in science and technology.
“The STEM programme is very helpful. Learners get to explore the practical side of the syllabus. The experiments help us understand the work better. We got to build atoms and saw how these worked,” said Theresa.
“There’s a lot of negativity towards maths and science. Learners must change their attitude towards these subjects and try and see them as a learning experience and not a hurdle.”
Theresa won the academic category in last year’s (2015) Matric of the Year competition. Her other achievements include: first place in the province in the annual ATKV Afrikaanse Olympiad for two years in a row (2014 and 2015); being selected as a member of the International Young Mathematics Convention team that competed in India (2014); winning the Royal Society of Chemistry award at the Eskom National Science Competition (2014); and being invited to represent South Africa at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburg, USA (2015).
On top of all of this, Theresa was head of her school’s debating society, she plays the clarinet and recently completed her grade 8 Trinity music syllabus. She plays social tennis, enjoys French cooking and loves ballroom dancing. She is passionate about French culture and is also learning to speak the language.
As a member of the International Young Mathematics Convention team, Theresa was able to attend a school in Lucnow, India, last year. She described the experience as “extremely amazing”.
“Lucnow has two or three campuses for about 50 000 learners. They are extremely intelligent. Some were already finishing high school at the age of 14. To compete against people of that calibre is an amazing experience.”
“I have dreams for South Africa and I would like to thank SANRAL for giving me the opportunity to take a step closer to realising dreams of my own.”
Theresa will be following in the footsteps of her father, Dr Hannes Brummer, by studying medicine at Stellenbosch University.
But unlike her father, who is a urologist, Theresa is not sure what area of medicine she wants to specialise in. She wants to explore her love for science and fulfil her passion in life which is to help people feel better. She hopes to make the world a better place.
Theresa’s parents are her role models.
“My mom (Henriette) is my rock. She’s always there for me. I can call on her anytime when I have a bad day. She’s taught me to be optimistic. My dad (Hannes) is my big inspiration. We’re very much the same person, focused and passionate about our work.”
Theresa’s younger sister, Frances will start grade 7 at Collegiate Junior this year.
“My sister and I are quite different. She’s the lively, spontaneous and arty one. She is sporty and also musical. But we are both driven to work hard at our academics. We know that this is important. I love spending time with her because she brings out my fun side.”
“Theresa is generally a hard worker and always sets goals for herself,” said her mother Henriette.
Henriette has advice for other parents:
“You have to realise what is important to them, and be there for them. Supporting your child at school is critical.”