Ziqi Zhao and Lauren Hutton
Johannesburg - When Ziqi Zhao arrived in South Africa from China as a teenager in 2016, she had a limited grasp of the English language.

“I couldn’t even understand the school’s announcements on the intercom properly,” the youngster said.

As Chinese was her first home language, she had difficulties speaking and understanding English and had to attend extra lessons.

These tutor sessions and her determination to overcome this hurdle paid off to such an extent that she received 86% for English in the 2019 National Senior Certificate (NSC) Independent Examinations Board results, which were released this week.

“I’m happy with all my matric marks but I am most proud of my English result because it is not my first language and I had to work very hard at it.”

Despite the challenging transition to a new country and continent, the Holy Rosary School for Girls pupil managed to walk away with a total of eight distinctions, earning her the second highest results at the Ekurhuleni school.

This also includes 98% for mathematics, accounting, information technology, life orientation, and life sciences, 94% for advanced programme mathematics and 93% for physical sciences.

Overall, the school had one matriculant, Lauren Hutton, receive a total of nine distinctions, eight with eight distinctions while seven of its other girls clinched seven distinctions each.

While Zhao is delighted with her results, she said this was her best yet in her schooling career and insisted that she expected far worse.

“I found many of the exams difficult and I wasn’t expecting to get such good results,” the 19-year-old said.

“I didn’t even fully enjoy the December holidays because I often had flashbacks of those difficult exams.”

As she celebrates her distinctions with her family, she paid tribute to her parents. “During the exam season, they kept reminding me to study hard and to get enough sleep.”

While the teenager reflects on her schooling journey, she is already looking ahead. “In the next few weeks I will be joining the University of Cape Town to study medicine.” 

Her advice to future matriculants is to dedicate themselves to their school work from day one instead of cramming all the material in at once a few days before final exams.

Saturday Star