Zanda, 24, graduated this month with an Honours in Mathematics Education, while her younger sister, Z’nita, 23, graduated in 2020 with an Honours in Medical Biosciences.
The sisters, from Worcester in the Western Cape, said that while they visited the Open Days of several universities when deciding where to study, UWC felt unlike any of the others. UWC is also their father’s alma mater, so they were keen to continue his legacy by studying there.
Zanda’s love of mathematics started at a young age, when the sisters would play a game of coding in their father’s classroom: “This made maths unique and fun.” With her father and maternal grandmother as teachers, teaching is “in her blood”.
Z’nita (left in picture) was introduced to the concept of Nanotechnology at the age of seven, when she became intrigued by how technology could be intertwined with her love of anatomy. “As I grew older, I thought this field was so futuristic. I never thought it would be possible to study this unless I specialised overseas.” Fortunately, UWC is one of four universities in SA to offer Nanosciences.
Zanda described studying with her sister as a privilege. “She is my daily inspiration to do my best. She’s my little treasure that celebrates my every achievement regardless of how small it may seem at the time.” Watching her graduate was one of the highlights of her time at UWC. “Z’nita was the first paternal and maternal grandchild to graduate with a university degree. Watching her walk across the stage and getting capped was extremely moving as her elder sister. I was and still am immensely proud of her accomplishments thus far, and I am so excited to see what the future holds for her.”
Being at UWC with her sister was the “cherry on top of the cake” of her studies, said Z’nita. “You could say I started day one (on campus), with my day one - the person who has been with me from the beginning. She always has my back and drags me out of the mud when times are tough, dusts me off and says: ‘Remember, it’s us against the world’.”
Studying during a pandemic, with lockdown restrictions, has been particularly challenging for the sisters. Their father battled COVID-19, and although he is now in recovery following a two-month battle in hospital, the sisters have had to balance their academic work while helping with their father’s rehabilitation.
They attribute their academic success, notwithstanding the challenges of the pandemic, to their parents, family, friends, respective faculties as well as the support of their supervisors at UWC. “Both of our supervisors are women, and it’s such an honour to have guidance from strong women in patriarchal fields,” said Zanda.
The sisters are currently enrolled as full-time Masters students at UWC in Mathematics Education and Nanosciences: Biomedical, respectively.