As an award-winning food scientist, Sinesipho Galada has found her true passion. And it’s all thanks to Stellenbosch University’s SciMathUS programme, which she says introduced her to the wonders of food science.
Galada’s passion led to her being awarded the Food Science and Technology prize in 2021 with a group of fellow students at the Institute of Packaging South Africa’s annual Gold Pack Awards.
But before the accolades, she was a Grade 12 student who needed a second chance to qualify for admission to higher education. The SciMathUS programme gives high school learners who have already 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.
Says Galada: “After I received my Grade 12 marks I got rejected by most of the institutions I had applied to. I was only accepted at one higher education institution but unfortunately, I did not have funding at the time. While I was still searching for funding opportunities, I heard about the SciMathUS programme and thought that it is something that can benefit me. My physical sciences marks were not good enough and I wanted to improve it because I think it was the reason I did not get accepted at the institutions I had applied for.”
She managed to get herself accepted into the SciMathUS class of 2017.
“The SciMathUS programme not only helped me to improve my NSC mark, but it was also through the programme that I got introduced to my current career path. Before SciMathUS I did not know about Food Science. After I heard about it, I was sold.”
She went on to study for a BSc (Food Science) degree at SU which she completed in 2021.
“I chose this degree because I felt like it represents me. Growing up, I was always into food hygiene and safety. I saw myself in this degree.”
Galada, who hails from the small Eastern Cape town of Molteno, added that the SciMathUS programme helped her to escape out of her comfort zone.
“All my life I’ve always been with my own people from the amaXhosa tribe. The programme taught me to interact with others and I got to meet a diverse group of people. I also learnt other languages besides my mother tongue and English. I believe that the transition from high school to university would have been difficult for me if it wasn’t for this programme. It made it easier for me to navigate my university career.”
She is currently studying towards a MSc (Food Science), focusing on food microbiology, at the University of Pretoria.
“I always challenge and push myself to do better,” she says, explaining her decision to further her studies. “I come from a disadvantaged background and I want to change that for myself and pave a new way for the generation coming after me.”