School of Life Sciences

Top achiever, Ms Sirisha Rampersad is congratulated by her father, Santosh and mother, Khemisha.

Put in the Hours and Be Passionate – Top Achiever

BSc Microbiology and Biochemistry summa cum laude graduate Ms Sirisha Rampersad chose to study at UKZN because of the University’s prestige and reputation for contemporary laboratories with state-of-the-art equipment.

A passionate scientist, Rampersad chose her majors because she found each discipline interesting and unique in its own way. ‘Microbiology deals with exploring and analysing microorganisms that can be beneficial or harmful, while Biochemistry entails studying life with all of its biochemical processes at a molecular level,’ she explained.

There were many ups and downs throughout her three-year degree. ‘COVID-19 made it especially difficult to attend practical laboratory sessions as well as field trips,’ she recalled. ‘Sometimes the workload would be overwhelming but in the end it all worked out.’

Aside from sleep deprivation from writing 15-page reports, Rampersad found her overall UKZN experience to be a positive one. ‘I got to meet new people and gain many first experiences that have definitely helped me grow as an individual and prepared me for the working world,’ she said. ‘Studying Microbiology and Biochemistry helped me think more analytically and has equipped me. Regarding tips for students who want to do well, Rampersad says there is no shortcut to excellence – it is all about ‘working hard, putting in the hours and being passionate about what you do.

‘It’s also important to make time to do things that you enjoy as this gives your brain time to rest.’

Rampersad is currently working as a laboratory technician but is considering returning to UKZN to further her studies in the near future.

She thanked her parents and two sisters for providing the foundation she needed during her studies. ‘My mother especially was a huge support as she constantly encouraged me to try my best and work at my own pace,’ she said. ‘Whenever I felt pressured with work, I could always turn to her.’

Words: Sally Frost

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan