Perseverance Wins the Day – and a Scholarship – for StudentGeneral

Ms Stuart Demmer at UKZN’s Ukulinga Research Farm.Ms Stuart Demmer at UKZN’s Ukulinga Research Farm.

Recipient of the College Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship and a budding rangeland ecologist, Mr Stuart Demmer, says the acknowledgement of his study perseverance is an honour and he is humbled by the recognition from an institution so full of bright, deserving scholars.

The Hillcrest High School old boy is studying for a Bachelor of Science Degree, majoring in Ecology, with Animal Science modules to bring depth to his agricultural and ecological interests.

This academic path was inspired by his cattle farmer grandfather and also by high school teachers who ignited an appreciation of biology and physical science, encouraging students to gain practical experience in these fields.

‘Looking at the ways plants and animals interact with one another is one of the most fascinating things to study,’ said Demmer.

His love for the outdoors - he is a keen hiker and camper - has served him well in his studies as has his approach of challenging himself at university to improve, rather than to simply achieve recognition. This has led to his excellent performance over the first two years of his degree, which the scholarship recognises.

The award provides his family with much-appreciated financial relief and has encouraged him to pursue excellence in his field.

Demmer aims to continue his studies to master’s level. Potential areas in which he will expand his expertise include rangeland ecology and the conservation and restoration of degraded land.

‘This is an area I feel is incredibly important to ensure the sustainability of our country’s rangelands,’ he said.

After completing his studies, Demmer hopes to make the most of the myriad opportunities available to ecologists, aiming to carve out a career as an extension officer, or an environmental consultant focused on maintaining the biodiversity of South Africa’s rangelands. He also dreams of building up his own cattle or game farm.

Christine Cuénod