Amaan Essa recently made his school and family members very proud when he collected 7 distinctions in each of his subjects: Physical Sciences, Accounting, Biology, Mathematics, English, Afrikaans and Life orientation.
This achievement helped him rake in a Bachelor's Pass, his school's Dux award, the FNB Levinson trophy and a 91.4% grade average.
The 18-year-old says this achievement comes as no surprise, however, as he was raised in what he describes as a "typical Indian family", where emphasis is put on academics, discipline and "striving to be the best at all times".
The Maritzburg College matriculant says he grew up in an intimate and competitive neighbourhood that pushed him to want to excel in his studies.
As a result, this teenager demonstrated an immense amount of self-discipline in 2021 when he committed to studying for 5 hours a day and stuck to it.
"I didn't want to be another extra in the ordinary, I wanted to be extraordinary," says Amaan.
Also see: 'I am thrilled': Joburg matriculant who is going to Harvard shares what this means to him
Give yourself grace
During the more difficult times of his high-school learning experience, Amaan says that he would draw motivation and support from his family: his parents, and two younger sisters.
"They always reassured me and told me 'you're going to do it!' even when I didn't believe in myself," says Amaan.
Though Amaan admits that the Coronavirus lockdown in the middle of his Grade 11 year certainly presented a challenge as he felt "it was very easy to lose control", he never backed down.
"During the [hard] lockdown, I'll be honest, it was really tough because there was no drive and motivation in life."
However, Amaan says that he persevered by trying his best to stay disciplined, but also giving himself grace during "trying times".
Also read: 'I have a huge amount of respect for these students': Reddford House schools produce excellent results
'It's time to start living'
Amaan says that he has "always been a physics, maths and bio guy" and has been achieving the top mark in his class for those subjects since Grade 10.
However, out of all of his school subjects, physics was the subject that brought him the most joy.
"Physics, for me, was the subject that blew my mind," explains Amaan. "When I sat down in the physics classroom, I just saw the vastness of the subject."
This is why, out of his long list of university offers, Amaan has chosen to study medicine at the University of Cape Town.
"I thought, 'If I'm going to do something, I might as well do something where I'm going to help people and also be financially stable'."
Amaan hopes that his university experience can be a fairly typical one as South Africa comes to grips with the Coronavirus.
"I'm looking forward to getting out socially and starting my life," says Amaan. "Life has been on pause the past five years of high school - now it's time to start living."
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