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During his university holidays, Sydney Dyani strolled into the office and was greeted with shouts of joy and hugs galore.

Sydney was an Axium Student from 2014-2016. After his matriculation, he was disappointed not to get into the degree of his choice so he decided to take part in the Jumpstart gap year program of 2017. Part of that involved being a Paragon (tutor for our after school Study Groups) in the Senior Schools team and his reception when he walked into the office was testimony to the hearts he won over in his time with Axium.

When he wasn’t being swamped by fans, I managed to grab him for a whole 30 minutes and gather his thoughts and experiences on life after Axium.

David: What are you studying?

Sydney: I’m doing a BSc in Chemistry at Walter Sisulu University. It’s interesting and challenging at the same time.

David: You are in second year? Sydney: Yes I’m in second year.

David: What was your experience of first year? Sydney: My experience was that it is very complicated to be a first year student. I missed classes and meetings because I didn’t know where they are. It’s very painful because I had to try to find friends. It was complicated to find friends who are studying the same degree as me so we can go together to classes. I would even go to campus to attend lectures but couldn’t find them. So a big challenge is missing classes because I don’t know where they are.

David: You found some friends? Sydney: I did find some friends who were doing the same courses and excelling together and that was nice.

David: How did you find the language barriers at university? Sydney: For me, I’m safe in English. I hear it well even though I do not speak it well. When the teacher delivers information, I can hear. In my degree English is not very important, luckily. I have some peers in my group who did First Language English and if I do not know something they will help me to translate. It is so important to have friends who can help.

David: What type of career does your course offer? Sydney: Chemistry is anything to do with chemicals so there are many opportunities when I have finished. Pharmacology; chemical engineering; forensic analysis.

David: What courses are you studying now? Sydney: I’m doing Maths - calculus and applied statistics; I’m then doing four chemistry modules: analytic; in-organic; organic; physical chemistry; and then physics. David: Yhooo that’s a lot of modules!

David: Tell me about res? Did you stay in university residence last year? Sydney: I didn’t get into res but I did have a friend who stayed in res and so I shared a room with him. This year I have a place outside of campus but because I am working late on campus I will still stay most of the time with my friend in res.

David: Tell me about your challenges of moving to Mthatha for study? Sydney: It’s always money! I never have money. I was unsure about my bursary. When will I get my money? How much will it be. I am on NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme). They take their time but they do pay. They pay for my tuition, residence, and book allowance. Last year it was very stressful because I didn’t know when I would find the money. Axium did help me last year. They gave me money before the NSFAS money came. That was so nice.

David: What do you want to do after this degree? Sydney: I want to go into pharmacy or perhaps teaching. I love Maths and Physical Sciences so maybe I must be a teacher. There are four things you must master to unblock your passion: (1) What are you good at? (2) what do you love the most? (3) What does the world need? (4) How can you make money doing that? That was said by Jay Shatty. I like him a lot.

David: So either a teacher or a pharmacist? What do you still need to study to become a pharmacist?

Sydney: So I need to move to Rhodes to study pharmacy. It is two years extra after my degree. Normally a pharmacy degree is four years but if you have studied chemistry you can reduce it to two years because some of the modules are the same. Pharmacy is all about chemistry!

David: For teaching what will you study? A Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE)? Sydney: Yes maybe a PGCE but I could also go straight to teaching. I have teaching experience with Axium being a paragon in 2017 and last year I was tutoring some schools in the Mthatha area in Maths and Science. So I already have teaching experience so why can’t I be a teacher? I also have a plan to maybe teach other students at varsity. If I study further I can teach undergraduates maybe.

David: What advice would you give to our current grade 12 learners about their future? Sydney: Finding your career is very complicated. That’s why Jay Shatty came up with these four things to unlock your passion. You must love what you are doing. Thoughts of money must go last.

David: In terms of getting through matric what advice would you give? Sydney: Matric is not difficult, but to do matric you need time. You are given 84600 seconds a day; if that was money, we would treat it very differently. This is also what Jay Shatty said. Time is the biggest issue in matric. Most matrics say: “If I had time I would do better!” so the matrics must use their time wisely.


Sydney’s story is one of perseverance, courage and new found confidence. The Senior School’s team were desperate for him to come and share his story at our Ekukhuleni program but as he was unable to make it we shared this transcript with our learners instead. Hopefully his story has inspired some of our learners to find and follow their passions.

Enkosi Sydney! Uyasikhuthaza (you inspire us)!

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