THE finalists for the coveted The Herald Matric of the Year competition have been selected and were interviewed by the panel of judges at the weekend – with a record four finalists being the second or third in their families to make it to the Top 20.
Following in their siblings' footsteps felt like a natural progression for Tahlia Naidoo, 18, Kurt van Staden, 17, Ronald Strydom, 18, and Meera Kesavapillai, 17. Their choice of careers – mainly in medicine – even mirrors those of their brothers and sisters.
The 20 finalists – who went in front of the judges for the first time on Saturday – are now gearing up for the gala evening on September 20, where the category and overall winners will be announced.
Grey pupil Kurt van Staden's brother Quintin was crowned Matric of the Year two years ago.
"But I don't feel any pressure. This will drive me to do my best and make my own mark," he said.
He will follow in his brother's footsteps and study medicine at Stellenbosch University next year.
Clarendon High School for Girls pupil Meera Kesavapillai said her brother, Vishnu Pillai, was the academic category winner last year and among the top three achievers in the province.
"This is seriously my biggest achievement to date and I'm not pressurised by the fact that my brother has achieved great things and left massive boots for me to fill," she said.
She will join her brother, who is studying medicine at the University of Pretoria next year.
Tahlia Naidoo, whose older sisters were both in the top 20 six and nine years ago, said she would follow sister Natasha's career path and study medicine at a Cape Town university next year.
Natasha is in her final year of medical school while Letitia is a chartered accountant.
"I feel very honoured to be part of this competition and proud that I can represent my school."
Ronald Strydom, of Brandwag High School in Uitenhage, said he first heard about the competition when his older brother, Daniel, was a finalist.
He plans to study a BComm C3 at NMMU. "My brother's doing exactly the same course."
The rest of the finalists, who will be profiled in The Herald next week, are:
- Aiswarya Prasad of Clarendon High School for Girls in East London
- Hendrik Louw of Despatch High School
- Janine Sahd of Queenstown Girls' High School
- Amy Warner of Clarendon High School for Girls
- Joanna Taylor of Collegiate Girls' High School in Nelson Mandela Bay
- Marike Krause of Kirkwood High School
- Ryelan Hardnick of Queen's College Boys' High
- Sarah Maclean of Queenstown Girls' High
- Ziyanda Zondeka of Hector Peterson High School in Zwelitsha
- Zizipho Potye of Hector Peterson High School
- Devin Stickells of Grey Boys' High School in Nelson Mandela Bay
- Jason Collier of Grey Boys' High School
- Martina MacDonald of Uitenhage High School
- Mikaela Oosthuizen of Pearson High School in Nelson Mandela Bay
- Sara Finestone of Pearson High School, and
- Taryn Koen of Pearson High School