While the majority of South African matrics anxiously await their final results to be released tomorrow, the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) top achievers were celebrating on Thursday after learning about their exceptional results. Pupils from independent schools in the KZN Midlands were excited to hear that their names were listed among those who had obtained commendable results.- Sign up to receive your matric results and you could win R10 000!Michaelhouse pupil Bernard van der Berg, who bagged seven distinctions, said he was “relieved” that his “consistent hard work” throughout his high school years had paid off.“This is absolutely awesome and I’m glad I managed to do this well,” he added.Bernard was awarded a scholarship to study teaching at the University of Pretoria following in the footsteps of his father, a teacher at Michaelhouse.“I had the option between law and teaching but I chose teaching. I am passionate about it and my dad has been my biggest influence and role model,” he said.Bernard, who lives on the Michaelhouse campus in Balgowan with his family, said he was excited about next year as he would be staying in another city and will have the opportunity to explore more places.Murray Finland, also from Michaelhouse, received seven distinctions but could not be reached for an interview.St Anne’s Diocesan College pupil Jessica Lee, who chose not to have her results published in the press, said she was glad the big day had finally arrived.“The wait for our results has been a little daunting but I was hoping to do well,” she said, adding that she plans to study business science at the University of Cape Town. “I’ve always wanted to work in the corporate world because I enjoy the financial aspect of things.“[And] I chose to stay and study in the country because I want to help and contribute to the economy of my home country, South Africa,” she said.Celebrating their Independent Examinations Board (IEB) matric results success are (from left) Josie Grubb from St John’s Diocesan School for Girls, Cherise Khan, also from St John’s, Bernard van der Berg from Michaelhouse, and Sarah Tocknell, Erin Irvins and Nicole Muir, all from St John’s.Epworth High School pupil Katja Vonkeman from Vryheid obtained eight distinctions.She was delighted and plans to study mechanical sciences in Germany after being awarded a bursary.“I am quite excited about this year but also nervous about starting a whole new life so far away from home,” she said.Katja advised pupils in Grade 12 this year to work hard and consistently from the beginning of the year.St John’s Diocesan School for Girls pupils Josie Grubb, Cherise Khan, Nicole Muir and Sarah Tocknell were all pleased to have bagged seven distinctions each.Josie, from Hilton, said the lead up to the release of their results had not been easy.“During exams I couldn’t really tell how well I would do, so I just wrote every exam hoping for the best. Gardening also helped me calm down whenever I felt overwhelmed,” she added.Josie will be joining her older brother at the University of Pretoria, where she plans to study actuarial science.Cherise, former head girl at St John’s, said she felt blessed, adding: “I was hoping that I would do well, but I never thought I’d be among the top achievers. I feel blessed, shocked, but also very excited.”The Hayfields resident will be following her childhood dream of studying medicine after realising the significant role doctors play in people’s lives.“I have had several medical procedures performed on me in the past and that made me also want to be able to help other people,” she said.Nicole, from Hilton, said she was relieved the results were finally out. “I found my finals extremely difficult compared to the trial exams and was worried because most people were saying the finals were much easier,” she added.Nicole recalled how she realised a day before her Afrikaans exam that she was in urgent need of reading glasses. “I honestly thought I might have brain cancer from all that studying. My mom calmed me down and we went to see an optometrist. All was sorted,” she laughed.Nicole will be joining her older sister at Stellenbosch University, where she will be studying mechatronics engineering (robotics), and will be sharing a university residence with one of her high school friends, Sarah.Sarah, meanwhile, said she was shocked when she learnt that she did well in her exams as she was not expecting to.She intends studying for a BCom in International Business at Stellenbosch University. When asked what kept her focused, Sarah said her grandmother died during her finals and she studied even harder knowing that “she would have wanted me to do very well” and to keep her mind away from the devastating loss. - See News24's Matric Results page.