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IEB top achiever a class act

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King David High School Linksfield matriculant Ricci Waksman got eight distinctions and made it onto the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) outstanding achievements list by placing within the top 5% in six or more subjects and achieving a level of 7 in Life Orientation.

Waksman will begin her studies in Biomedical Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand this year. She hopes to study further in the United States. Her end goal is to be a neuro engineer.

Waksman said she “hibernated” leading up to the final exams. “I never left my desk. It was hours and hours – probably almost 10 hours a day – of just sitting studying, doing past papers, and then going through everything.”

That said, listening in class is the biggest secret to her good marks. “Listening, especially in the younger grades, and then developing the habit of staying focused in the lesson. A lot of the time when you don’t listen in class, you think you’re going to catch the work up at home, and it never happens. I’ve found 80% of learning for tests or exams is done in class, not when you’re swotting at home.”

Waksman was co-mayor of the Johannesburg Junior Council for a year from March 2022. She was also the leader of her school’s arts and culture committee.

“My fondest memories come from my year on the council. It taught me such invaluable lessons in time management and leadership, which carried over to the roles I had at school and my studies. I’ll use [my time-management skills] going into university and to balance work and life.”

As co-mayor, Waksman ran different projects such as a 16 June march focusing on equal rights and education. “We had a blood drive, and we had a couple of fundraisers going towards different organisations, like one for the empowerment for women and others that were already making a difference to the issues that we were passionate about.”

Waksman also participated in public speaking, dancing, the interact club, and many arts and culture initiatives.

As the head of the first aid team at the school, she attended sports practices and events. She volunteered on an ambulance-response team, which she says was “eye-opening”, with 12-hour shifts.

Successfully juggling all these activities with studying once again required good time management. “I quickly had to learn how to manage my time, whether it was a whiteboard on the wall where I write everything for the week, or Google Calendar on my phone and my laptop, but just staying on top of everything. As soon as I have stuff to do, I write it down, put it into a calendar, and make sure that I manage everything without overwhelming myself.”

Waksman destressed with activities like shopping and watching movies.

She’s always been attracted to the medical field. “I’ve never quite known which route in the field I would take, but through first aid and studying, I’ve just seen how much I really want to make a difference,” she says.

“In biomedical engineering, I’ll use problem-solving skills to contribute to new developments and machinery. I’m particularly interested in neuro engineering because there are so many mental illnesses and brain disorders that we’re not very far along in finding cures and treatments for. There are such interesting ways of treating them. To be able to contribute to that would be a life dream.”

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