I’m going to Stellenbosch University to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in molecular biology and biotechnology. I want to learn about microorganisms.
I grew up on a farm in Augrabies, in the Northern Cape, where my parents are table grape farmers.
I am the middle child of three sisters and I lived there most of my life, but then I went to Paarl —to Paarl Gimnasium High School —to study.
On top of my main seven subjects, I added German second additional language and visual arts. I got nine distinctions out of nine subjects I wrote.
My winning trick has been excelling since I was in grade 8, and [achieving] consistency throughout the years. I don’t believe there was any recipe to passing my matric. I would advise matriculants to start working hard from the beginning of the year: that’s the only way to win.
In 2018 I was one of two South African pupils who were selected to go to the United States space agency. While there, I got an opportunity to interact with other people who are passionate about science. The experience taught me so much about research.
I was so shocked when I received the news that I am the top achiever in the country. I was not expecting it in any way.
My parents will be paying for my tuition fees in the meantime. I have not received any offers and I didn’t apply for any bursaries. — Madelein Dippenaar, 18, as told to Chris Gilili