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  • Writer's pictureRuth First Trust

French, Python, the perfect cookie and the splits!

Being a Grade 12 at Jeppe Girls usually involves a lot of stress. Tests, workload, senior responsibilities, extra murals, ‘last times’, university applications – it is a hectic whirl of activity. Not so in the time of Corona. The two words Vanessa Ndiangang uses to describe her current state are resting and reflective.

Although the workload and tests continue, the lockdown has provided an opportunity for Vanessa to slow down and think about things and what it is she wants to achieve in her life. In between her studies, she is learning French online, a dream she has always wanted to follow, and now has the time to do so. Following on from Pelonomi Moiloa, one of our mentor’s introductory coding course in 2019, she is developing her ability on Python (recognised as the gold standard entry level coding language) through self-taught tutorials. She loves to bake, is working on the ‘perfect cookie’, and is developing her flexibility so that she can achieve her goal by the end of the year: to do the splits!

Vanessa is a top student and has set her sights on studying Chemical Engineering in 2021. Her applications are in at University of Pretoria (her top choice, primarily because of the exchange opportunities provided to overseas universities), Wits, Stellenbosch, UCT and for Mechanical Engineering at UJ. She is eager to experience internships and do job shadowing, so as to be exposed to as many different opportunities and environments as possible, while plotting her path into the future.

Vanessa attributes her success of making the lockdown work for her to her organisational skills. In 2018, her Ruth First mentor, Claudina Nogueira, helped her with some guidelines for being organized and optimising her productivity. She took these to heart, and using the app, Notion, Vanessa plans out her day, ensuring there is time for breaks, and baking, as well as her studies. “My room reflects my state of mind: if it is clean and organized, I can achieve anything. I need to finish things and take them to their conclusion.”

Like the strategic chess-player she is, Vanessa has a plan. And she’s sticking to it – finding a way past the obstacles in her path and making the most of opportunities to hand.

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