Johannesburg – Tumelo Mashigo, part of the class of 2017, hopes to one day be president.
The 18-year-old was the second best performing learner with special needs among the most recent matriculants and hopes to make the world a better place one day.
Mashigo, who was born with phocomelia – a birth defect in which the hands and feet are attached to abbreviated arms and legs - will be the first to admit that "growing up was extremely difficult".
"I did not have enough friends because many kids were scared ... but these last few years have been great for me," he said.
"In primary school I was a victim of bullying, I was bullied a lot. I just took that as an opportunity to improve in other sections like school work," he said.
Mashigo said he was overwhelmed by the announcement that he had been one of the top performing learners in 2017.
"It feels great. I’m extremely excited," he said. "It’s actually overwhelming. I’m out of words."
"I believe this is the start of something great," Mashigo said.
'Nothing is impossible'
Mashigo, who plans on studying international relations, said his motivation for his career choice was because he always wanted to help people.
"I want to make a difference, that’s why I chose international relations. The bigger plan is to become president of South Africa," he said.
Mashigo said he was happy that his dream never went away and that it had been with him since he was young.
Mashigo, who was deputy head boy at Muriel Brand School in Brakpan on Johannesburg’s East Rand, believes any student can reach their dream.
"Nothing is impossible. If you put your mind to it, nothing is impossible," he said.
Mashigo’s principal at Muriel Brand School, Japie de Jager, said the school was very proud of him.
"He comes from very humble beginnings. He’s become a learner we’re very proud of," De Jager said.