David da Costa changed schools six times during his school career.
"My life as a student was a roller coaster. Eventually, I made it against all odds," the King David Linksfield student said.
Da Costa, 19, obtained six distinctions in Business Studies, English, Geography, Life Orientation, Mathematics and Physical Science.
When he was younger, like many students, he struggled with maths and used to get very anxious at the thought of doing the subject.
It may have been one of his toughest subjects, but Da Costa managed to secure a distinction for maths.
Struggled a lot
"When growing up, I was overwhelmed with maths and didn't enjoy doing it. At Grade 3, I was sent to Bellavista School, which is a remedial school. There I passed to Grade 4. Initially, I didn't like Bellavista, I didn't want to be there.
"I went to King David Victory Park and was ordered to be in a lower class at Grade 4. I later repeated Grade 4. I then went to another school, where I studied Grade 5 up to 9," he said.
Initially, Da Costa didn't thrive. His highest marks were between 60% and 65% in every subject, but he yearned to obtain distinctions.
He also wanted to play rugby and cricket at school, while at the same time wanting to improve his marks.
"I went to King David High School [Linksfield] to do my Grade 9. I wanted to take science, but was told my marks were low and I had to work hard to get the required marks. At the end of Grade 9, I got 69% in science. At the end of Grade 10 things changed for me. I became a better student.
"I got 70% aggregate. At Grade 11, I got an average of 82% in all subjects, including maths and science. During my first matric preliminary examinations, my results improved more," he said.
Injury to his knee
In September 2017, Da Costa tore his knee ligament while playing rugby for his school. He completed his rehabilitation last week.
Before his injury, he played cricket, representing Team Maccabi SA at Maccabiah in Israel in 2017.
"After the injury my father sat down with me and told me that maybe I won't be able to play sport again, and to focus on greater things in life which are my books. I have not played any sport last year and I found myself succeeding in many things at school.
"For the first time in my life, I received a medal at the end of 2017. I was among the top students at King David High School Linksfield. My parents were very proud of me. When I remember the journey I have travelled, having to change six schools from primary level, being bullied and laughed at, indeed my life was a roller coaster," he concluded.
Da Costa is torn between studying Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at Wits University this year.