Hard work and dedication can take one far, says Saheti’s Pillay

Nikhil Pillay. Picture: Supplied

Nikhil Pillay. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 18, 2024


“Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

This is 19-year-old Nikhil Pillay, from Saheti School in Senderwood, describing how his matric journey was full of hurdles which he was able to overcome through grace and perseverance.

The learner has been proclaimed top candidate at his school. In his final examinations, he achieved the highest average (93%) and a full house – 10 distinctions, eight of which were 90% or higher in accounting, Afrikaans, English, life orientation, life sciences, maths, modern Greek, physical sciences, further studies English and further studies maths (extended).

The IEB also designated him as an Outstanding Achiever for ranking among the top 5% of candidates nationally in six or more subjects.

“My matric year was filled with many challenges both in school and my personal life, however, I still managed to get through it by staying optimistic. What sustained me was knowing that my hard work would eventually pay off.”

Pillay says his matric journey was filled with negatives but also many positives that helped ease the stress.

“Some of my highs would be my matric dance and valedictory as these were times when I could celebrate and escape the stress of matric.”

Pillay says he found it hard to balance his school work and personal life at the same.

He describes the moment as a tipping point for him; he didn’t know if he was coming or going.

“My March exams was my lowest, especially when trying to balance school, my personal life, and mental and physical health as that was a time of extreme stress. Being thrown into matric and not knowing how to handle anxiety.

“A major low was coping with burnout exiting my Grade 11 year and understanding that, sometimes, rest is more beneficial than burning out.”

He says his preliminary examinations were the best thing that could have happened as all his grades were good overall and gave him the confidence to calmly and easily tackle every test he wrote.

“I was able to reflect on my mistakes in the March block tests. I felt that I discovered how to organise my life around matric and it led to my being able to study effectively and without too much mental burnout.”

His plans for the future?

“I hope to study medicine (at Wits) and to pursue a career that will allow me to help as many people as possible.”

The Star

Sipho Jack