Top achiever wants to be an engineer

Aphelele Zenani (18) who passed matric with seven distinctions is pursuing his dream of being an Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Cape Town. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

With so many young, bright people choosing engineering as a career, engineering in South Africa is in good hands. Aphelele Zenani (18), an aspiring engineer who completed grade 12 with seven distinctions, is currently enrolled in the Electrical and Computer Engineering program at the University of Cape Town.

This young man, who was born in East London, accomplished this achievement at Lumko High School in Amalinda, East London. It was not easy because he experienced difficulties along the way. “I grew up in poverty so, naturally I faced the challenges that come with it. At school I would lack special equipment to undertake certain school projects because we did not have the money to buy it,” he shared with this newspaper.

Zenani recounts that he had to walk long and dangerous distances to school, facing robbers several times, all because his family could not afford transportation to school. He resided with his parents and five siblings before to moving to Cape Town. His parents both unemployed, so they rely on his father’s monthly old age pension grant and two child support grants they receive from the government to make ends meet.

Zenani says that his family’s situation motivates him. “I go through the day by persevering when times are tough and remind myself of the need to try my best to work hard and succeed so I can better my family’s financial situation,” he said.

He has been preparing for his first-year lectures and is eager because he aspires to be a technological innovator.

“I chose to study engineering because of how engineers can use scientific knowledge and principles in technologies that benefit society.

“I chose electrical and computer engineering specifically because the stream is the most impactful among the other streams. It’s almost impossible going through a single day without having leveraged a technology that is not designed by electrical engineers,” he said.

He advised matriculants to learn as much as they could from the mistakes they make early in the year. “Wake up every day with a determination to fight and conquer laziness. When they do need extra help they should seek it,” he advised.

He continued, “I struggled with my English in the first two terms, and I asked for help from my English teacher and the result was a distinction for the third and final term,” he said.