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21 April 2022 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo Leonie Bolleurs
Annemien and Almare
Anne-Mien Schoombie and Almaré de Bruin.

The month of April not only announced the turn of a season, but also the first series of face-to-face graduation ceremonies for the University of the Free State (UFS).

On Thursday 21 April 2022, Anne-Mien Schoombie and Almaré de Bruin received the Dean’s Medals in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences as the overall best achievers in the third- and fourth-year groups, respectively.

Making people’s lives easier

Anne-Mien, who enrolled for a BIS Multimedia honours degree at the University of Pretoria, received her degree in BSc Information Technology majoring in Data Science at the UFS. After completing her honours degree, she wants to pursue a career in software development.

With both parents in the mathematical field (her father was an applied mathematics professor at the UFS prior to his passing away), Anne-Mien also has a strong aptitude for mathematics. Thinking ahead – looking for the best access to job opportunities – she decided to study a combination of statistics (rather than pure mathematics) and computer science. She believes the BSc IT degree with a major in Data Science will not only allow her greater access to job opportunities one day, but also the opportunity to improve her current strengths.

“As software developer, I hope to contribute to projects that will make people's lives easier. It is very important for me to be able to give back, as I have been blessed with many opportunities in my own life,” says Anne-Mien.

Being extremely grateful for receiving the Dean’s Medal, Anne-Mien reveals that God motivated her. “I realise that the strengths I have are God-given. The only way in which I can show my gratitude is by using every opportunity to improve my strengths so that I may use it to help others.”

Contributing towards sustainability and food innovation

Almaré, who has always been passionate about food, says Consumer Studies was her favourite subject when she was in high school. She knew that she had to pursue studies in this field when she visited the Department of Consumer Science (now the Department of Sustainable Food Systems and Development) during the 2017 UFS Open Day.

“I immediately felt at home in the Department of Consumer Science when I started my studies in 2018. I really enjoyed learning from lecturers who are passionate about their fields of study and who are eager to share their knowledge. My studies opened my eyes to the world of food and allowed me the space to grow my passion for food security and product development,” she says.

During her honours studies, she developed raisin spread for children. “I thoroughly enjoyed the process, as well as the challenge, of developing a food product from scratch,” says Almaré, who is motivated by opportunities to learn. One of her favourite quotes is work with heart, not just hard. “This quote always motivates me to put my heart and soul into everything I do.”

Currently enrolled for her master’s degree in Consumer Science focusing on food security, Almaré says she would one day like to apply her knowledge of food security and food product development to make a positive contribution towards sustainability and food innovation.

About receiving the Dean’s Medal, she states that it is an immense honour and blessing. “It is also a confirmation that hard work never goes unnoticed,” Almaré adds.

Acknowledging the best of the best

A total of 617 undergraduate students in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences graduated during the April Graduation ceremony. The undergraduate programme in the faculty that delivered the largest number of students, is the Bachelor of Agriculture majoring in Animal Production Management, seeing a total of 44 students graduating.

The department in the faculty that saw the most undergraduate students (nine) graduating with distinction, is the Department of Sustainable Food Systems and Development, with its Bachelor of Consumer Science programme. Head of Department, Prof Johan van Niekerk, says, “We believe that a student’s ‘motivation’ is everything. Therefore, the lecturers regard their students as the essence of their being. They develop and deliver programmes that ensure well-rounded people, driven by sound values. Our students are independent problem solvers. The teaching and learning programmes are meaningful, following best practices and innovation. It prepares our students optimally within their respective spheres of interest.”

“Delivering high-calibre students is our ultimate academic goal. It includes how the student, lecturer, and institution have attained their short- and long-term educational goals. We strive to advance relevant knowledge and develop employable, innovative, and diverse graduates to co-create value for society.”

A total of 45 students in the faculty graduated with distinction in the 65 undergraduate programmes that awarded degrees during the April graduation.

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