Heading for the moon: Matriculant with 7 distinctions has his sights set on NASA

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The moon is the limit for Rohan Cloete.
The moon is the limit for Rohan Cloete.

Hailing from the motherland of Cape Town, 18-year-old Rohan Cloete is among the 36% of 2021 matriculants who achieved a Bachelors Pass, but he is determined to only let this be the beginning of great things.

Cloete, who was a beneficiary of the Ruta Sechaba scholarship programme at Curro Somerset West, was able to obtain a distinction in all 7 of his school subjects.

Also see: Curro's Class of 2021 celebrates a 99% pass rate

Now, the "diligent and focused" matriculant, as described by Graeme Waite, the Executive Head of Curro Somerset West, is gearing up to study Astro Physics at the University of Cape Town and hopes to someday work at the United States federal agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). 

The moon is the limit

Though Cloete says this lofty ambition started as a joke, he believes that he has no reason not to brave the challenges that come and let the moon be the limit.

"Because of these challenges, wouldn't it be even better if I managed to reach that goal?" he asks.

The clever teen says that there are three things he's known since early on: he's always been good with numbers, he's always been intrigued by philosophical questions and he has always been keen for a challenge. 

"I developed a mindset that I like challenges and I decided that it wouldn't be too bad for me to actually go into it. I find that astrophysics itself is actually really interesting - I would say almost philosophically interesting. It leaves you questioning a lot of things like why we are here, how the universe works - all of that good stuff," he explained, adding "I've been intrigued by those questions ever since I was a little boy."

Also read: Here's where to find the 2021 matric exam results

'I'm actually going to get somewhere'

After losing both of his grandfathers in August of 2021, Cloete says he persevered in his studies by telling himself, "'If I don't move forward then I'm going to stay where I am - if I move forward then I'm actually going to get somewhere'. That's always been a big aspiration".

Hoping to have made his late grandparents proud, Cloete says he put in the hours where he needed to and tried not to focus on the pressure. He was also held together by the endless support of his family.

"You can't help but feel like you need to excel when it comes to these difficult challenges," he says.

The young matriculant encourages the Class of 2022 to take a deep breath and tackle one subject at a time.

"It always seems more difficult than it actually is. Whenever you are faced with a difficult task, it's always best to work your hardest and you will achieve what you want to achieve," he says.


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