Johannesburg - In addition to preparing for his final IEB matric exams, 18-year-old Daniel Katz also had to take care of his home and look after his two younger brothers while his parents travelled to Europe for medical treatment for his father.
Ironically, it was his father contracting cancer that led to the King David High School, Linksfield, matriculant to push himself to ace eight of his nine subjects, a feat he had not accomplished until his final exams.
Daniel said his father was diagnosed with prostate cancer when he was in Grade 10. At the time, he was dreaming of becoming a businessman, and although his maths and science marks had always been strong, he was nowhere near being an A pupil.
It was his father’s illness and his reading up on it, and the extra responsibilities he had to take on during his parents’ travels, that prompted Daniel to pull up his socks and look to pursue a career in biomedical engineering.
It the first term of his matric year, he managed to scored only three As. In his finals he aced English, maths, life orientation, Hebrew, maths paper 3, accounting, physical science and advanced programme maths.
“I had to help my brothers with their homework and get groceries while studying for my exams,” Daniel said.
“I don’t know how I did it. I just pushed myself. When I woke up in the morning, I knew what I needed to do. If I didn’t do it, I wouldn’t be happy and I’d push harder.”
Daniel’s determination saw him being accepted at universities for the numerous fields he had applied for.
However, he ultimately decided to pursue a biomedical engineering degree at Wits University.
Daniel said his chosen career was so that he could contribute to cutting-edge development in medicine and technology.
Initially, it was not part of his plan to remain in Joburg for his tertiary studies.
“My dad’s fighting for his life. I decided to stay in Joburg so I can be close to my family,” he said.