THEY have the brains and dedication to accomplish anything they put their minds to. Their eyes are set on taking the business world by storm – and winning The Herald Matric of the Year competition would "definitely open doors" for them.
This is the view of four of this year's 20 finalists – who are young women hell-bent on leading existing top companies or ones they start themselves.
Joanna Taylor, 18, of Collegiate Girls' High School in Port Elizabeth, dreams of becoming a chief executive of a company as she sees herself holding a leadership position.
Taylor, who achieved 100% for maths in June, said although she did not take accounting as a subject at school, she would study towards a BComm Accounting or Business Science degree. "I'm always up for a challenge and I'm not shy of hard work," she said.
Taylor is a top academic, who came first overall in her grade last year. She was first in the Eastern Cape in the Afrikaans olympiad and ninth in the country.
She is a committee member of the Students Christian Association and is part of the hostel fundraising committee.
The red-haired prefect teaches maths to others at her school. She also teaches the little ones on a voluntary basis at the Langbos Creche and Care Centre in Addo, where she coaches table tennis as well.
Taylor has received numerous academic awards and passed the bronze level in ballroom dancing with 84%.
She is one of the top 10 speakers at the Algoa Toastmasters Club and took part in a youth leadership programme last year.
"It would be a great privilege to win this competition as it would bear testimony to how hard you've worked," she said.
"Also, when applying for work you can't always give your reports to show how well you did in school, but when [prospective employers] see Matric of the Year, they'll definitely know."
Zizipho Potye, 18, of Hector Peterson High School in Zwelitsha, wants to become a high- powered businesswoman and help under-resourced schools in rural areas.
The quiet teenager, who was described as a humble young lady with a great sense of humour, has been the top achiever in her grade throughout her high school career and has occupied a few leadership positions.
She was chairwoman of the school's debating society and helped start the book club society.
Potye was involved in the Adopt a Sister programme, where older women partnered with younger ones for sessions where they shared their daily experiences and challenges.
She was selected to the Talent Targeting Programme at Wits University and has helped with dancing and drama lessons in her community.
Potye said she would love to study towards a BComm Accounting degree at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
"I'm quite good at maths, for which I got 88% in June, but need to work on my accounting if I want to live my dream.
"My ultimate goal is to help under-resourced schools in rural areas realise their full potential because they have it, but opportunity is lacking."
She said she was very proud of having made it as a finalist.
"It proves I have the potential to excel, because many applied to get in [to the Matric of the Year competition] but judging by how many are through, it is truly an honour."
Kirkwood High School pupil Marike Krause, 18, is working towards one day opening her own law firm.
The bubbly head girl and prefect is the editor of her school's newspaper and captain of the debating team. She has captained the first hockey team and second teams in netball, tennis and squash.
She holds academic honours and has maintained a 90% average from Grade 8 until now.
She has received numerous awards for best speaker at school and has served on committees organising the matric farewell and Mr and Miss Kirkwood High pageant.
Krause leads the Uniting Christian Students Association at school as well as the Malmasion Primary Charity Project.
"I'm very honoured to have been selected a finalist, especially as I am the first from my school to enter the competition," she said.
She plans to study a BComm Law degree at NMMU or Stellenbosch University. "I want to become a lawyer, but also have a business background as I plan to have my own firm."
Taryn Koen, 18, of Pearson High School in Port Elizabeth, has a passion for accounting and will go on to study BComm Accounting at NMMU.
After job shadowing at PricewaterhouseCoopers last year and "thoroughly enjoying it", Koen knew it was the career for her. "I just love accounting.
"At the job shadow I thought, this is me, this is what I want to do."
Koen is a prefect and vice-president of the school's environmental club Ecos, National Sea Rescue Institute committee and Student Representative Council.
She was awarded an Interact supporter's badge for service to the community and is a lifesaver at the Summerstrand Lifesaving Club. She is also a cerebral palsy volunteer.
The sporty blonde has represented Eastern Province in hockey for five years and was chosen for the South African lifesaving squad at the national championships this year.
She has received a number of academic honours awards, including for life sciences and Afrikaans. She obtained a silver certificate for the bio-science olympiad.
Koen was crowned second princess at her school's pearsonality competition and was first princess at the Mr and Miss Eastern Cape High Schools competition.
She said she did not expect to be a finalist. "When I applied, I didn't want to get my hopes up too much because many people applied and some have achieved a lot more than I have," she said.