Before Meagan Louw entered the Stellenbosch University SciMathUS University Preparation Programme she thought her dream of furthering her studies in the molecular biology field was over. But since then, she has gone on to not only obtain both undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in this science discipline at Stellenbosch but to forge a successful career at the university too.
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, especially those in STEM Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related fields.
Louw, a former Rhodes High School pupil, entered the SciMathUS programme in 2010. This after her Physical Sciences and Mathematics marks in matric were not good enough to secure her entry into a university to study for the BSC Molecular Biology and Biotechnology degree that she wanted.
At the end of her SciMathUS academic year, both her Physical Sciences and Mathematics marks increased by close to 30%, and she was accepted at SU to commence her BSc (Molecular Biology and Biotechnology).
“I chose molecular biology due to the love I developed for the laboratory environment and research in the molecular biology field,” said Louw.
She said the programme not only helped her to grow academically but also prepared her well for university life.
“The programme included workshops that focused on challenges such as time management and how to prioritise work. The workload in university can be overwhelming. Even simple tips such as how to take notes in lectures definitely helped in the long run.”
After graduating with her BSc in 2015, Louw secured a position as a research officer at SU’s Sub-Saharan Africa Biorepository (SSAB) based in the Department of Anatomical Pathology at Tygerberg Academic Hospital. The SSAB collects, processes, stores, and distributes HIV/Aids-related cancer specimens for research purposes.
“As part of the Biobank team my duties include processing and storing samples with sample-related data collected by our research nurse. These samples include whole blood samples, as well as fresh tissue samples which will be processed and stored in the Biobank for research purposes.”
Louw also went on to obtain a Master’s degree in Pathology at SU during the recent March 2023 graduation ceremony events.
The SciMathUS programme opened a lot of doors for me and I would whole-heartedly recommend it to other students, says Louw.
“The programme did not only help me improve my marks in Mathematics and Physical Sciences, it also made me love doing these subjects. It got me excited for physical science classes, something I could never have imagined due to me never wanting to choose it as a Grade 10 subject choice. The programme also prepares students for university life so when you enter your first year at a higher education institute you know what to expect and will not be put off by the amount of work that comes your way.”
She gives credit to her father for the huge part he played in her success.
“He has been my motivator from primary school to this day. He was the one that encouraged me to take Physical Sciences at the time I thought I was incapable of doing it. Today we can laugh about the day I cried about having to take this subject.”