- Andonia Papavarnava achieved 10 distinctions in matric.
- She plans to study medicine this year.
- Papavarnava says the pandemic made her realise medicine was her calling.
When Andonia Papavarnava started matric, she aimed to get 10 distinctions and that is exactly what she has achieved.
Papavarnava says: "I was aiming for 10 [distinctions], but the exams were challenging. I have always wanted to excel and do my best."
The Saheti School pupil achieved distinctions in Accounting, Afrikaans, English, Life Orientation, Life Sciences, Mathematics, Modern Greek, Physical Sciences, Advanced Programme Mathematics and Advanced Programme English.
She had also been named an outstanding achiever by the IEB (Independent Examinations Board), ranking within the top 5% of candidates nationally in six or more subjects.
While Papavarnava was happy with her stellar performance, she felt the Covid-19 pandemic took away from her final school year.
While the pandemic took a toll on her social life, Papavarnava said it also made her realise that her choice to study medicine was the right one.
"I know there are some people who thought because of the pandemic they can't see themselves working in the [medical] field. For me, it made me realise it's exactly what I want to do. As hard as it is, as strenuous as the hours look, especially with Covid, it's really something I am passionate about. The world requires doctors; they need them every day. It showed me that I can't see myself doing anything else.
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"Medicine is such a complex degree. I have always been fascinated by the way the mind works; how it's constantly changing and evolving. I want to be at the forefront of world developments and advancements. I love learning new things and I want to do a career where I will be constantly learning."
Papavarnava has a choice of studying medicine at Wits University, the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University.
Papavarnava said while academic excellence was important to her, she also valued having a balanced lifestyle.
"I... believe in a balanced lifestyle. Of course, we have to study, but we also have to make time for friends - WhatsApp calls - and exercise. A balanced life gives your life harmony."
She said it was because of this that she took part in cultural activities like debating and Greek dancing at school.
"Taking part in the activity made sure that I kept learning new things and discovering new ideas about the world."
And the secret to her success?
"Consistently working. I started consistently working from Grade 10 when you choose your subjects. If you work hard from there, you are constantly learning and learning and you won't lose that knowledge."
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