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I joined my brother at Michael Oak in 1999, in the Nursery and my teacher was Ann Coop. When I think of school, I remember doing Art, with a capital A and I miss that in my daily life. I also have fond memories of the morning songs in high school with Mr Scannell and Mr Cox who introduced us to that little-known group, The Beatles, and other favourites like Cat Stevens, now Yusuf Islam.

My best friends at school, were Megan Weber, Julia Lauri, Sean MacPherson and Farah Khalfe. Some of the teachers who instantly spring to mind, are Mr Paul (King) who made me a spritely necklace when I was feeling down, Ms. Vanda van Spuyk-Hulbert, who offered up wisdom beyond the mere teaching of classroom lessons. Truthfully, I didn’t understand everything she had to say at the time, but as I’ve grown older there have been a few occasions where I’ve finally understood her! There was also Mrs Tilanus who stepped in when she was most needed and Ms Daniels who made her Afrikaans interesting and even fun.

When I was a learner there, MO did not offer classes beyond Class 10, so I left in 2010 for planet Cedar House, from which I gratefully matriculated in 2012.
I attended UCT, for several years and graduated in 2020 with an MSc in Molecular and Cell Biology. My thesis focused on the production of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) pseudovirions in plants as a means of furthering the development of cheaper and safer HPV vaccines. Sjoe, quite a mouthful! On completion of a two-year internship as an Enzyme Engineering Research Scientist I now work as a Quality Control Scientist for Roche Dia Cape Town.
Michael Oak, as a well-equipped, privileged school, allowed me some insight into the significance that an excellent basic education can give a child, and it has forged a deep awareness in me of how important it is to make science and maths accessible to all.
When I attended UCT I also volunteered at the “Help to Read” organization in Bridgetown, and later volunteered for the 100UP programme, which introduces learners from underprivileged schools to the Science faculty and its various departments at UCT.
Really, what I want to do is remove the notion that science is something elite, or only for the extensively educated; everyday practices like kicking a ball in the air, or making a cup of tea, is also all about science. With the advent of Covid-19 we’ve seen how quickly a virus can spread and also how rapidly misinformation, lies and fallacies about its prevention seeps into our communities. By making science accessible to everyone, people are able to reach informed decisions based on reliable facts rather than rumour and superstition. That’s the way to forge through darkness, to build a bright present, a joyful future.
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