The transition from high school to university is one that serves as a milestone in my life. Leaving Limpopo to further my studies in the Eastern Cape felt like a big leap into the real world. My anticipation for what was to come was clouded by a range of feelings, which included excitement and anxiety. I was about to set foot in a new province, and at that moment, I felt like I was given the path to independence and adulthood.

My teachers in high school often emphasised how we had to learn to study independently because when we get to tertiary, we won’t be spoon-fed information. They talked about how we would have to take full responsibility for our learning. I faced several difficulties in tertiary right out of the bat as a result of not following that advice. When I entered tertiary, procrastination had more opportunity to flourish. Like almost everyone, when I got to tertiary, I enjoyed the freedom. The freedom of choice. The freedom to choose whether to go to classes or not. That was the epitome of a “soft life”, and inevitably, my academics began to plummet.

I enrolled in Rhodes University’s Chemistry 1R1 course, instructed by Mrs. Sewry. Alongside her knowledge and expertise in the field of chemistry, she has a huge dedication and passion for science. She always reminds us that science is everywhere and links the content we are doing in class to real-life examples. It helps increase our understanding of the content and makes it easy to remember. She encourages us to be inquisitive about the world around us and not just take what is said at face value. She continuously reminds us that science has made our lives possible, safe and efficient. This has led to an immense appreciation of the field and a realisation that science truly is life.

Additionally, she encourages us as classmates to work closely together, support one another, and come up with ideas for approaching problems. This got rid of the mindset that most of us had that we could make it work all by ourselves. Instead of struggling by ourselves, we work together during class by having discussions. This helps because we have different perspectives on how to approach certain problems, and we can then brainstorm some ideas.

We have a feedback session after test assessments, during which she gives us a paper with questions on why we think we received the marks we did for every topic, how we prepared for each topic, how we feel about our marks and what we think we can do to improve. This helps us have an in-depth reflection on our performance and what we can do from there to achieve better results. This had a big influence since I never really sat down and pondered on my assessments because I was so focused on getting things checked off my list so the day could end and I could rest.

All in all, Mrs. Sewry fostered a passion for science and chemistry in me. I now approach my studies with greater excitement, making an effort to connect everything I study to situations that occur in real life. She has also assisted me in taking ownership of my education. She left a lasting impression on me and how I approach academia. My goal is to be able to share with others what I have learned so far in my academic journey.