The Jacob Marengo Secondary School Grade 12 pupil who is in the national top 10 says he did it for his single mother who works hard to make sure they have food on the table.
THE auditorium erupted with applause and ululating as Jelson Quinga (18) from the Jacob Marengo Secondary School, founded by the late Ottilie Abrahams, made history and joined the top 10 achievers of the 2018 National Senior Secondary Certificate (NSSC) ordinary level examinations.
Quinga, an Angolan national, was awarded the top 8 spot nationally with 82,39%.
In 2016, the same school had three pupils in the top 10 of the Khomas region.
Speaking to The Namibian yesterday Quinga said he feels great as he wasn't expecting it, but it proves that hard work pays off.
His biggest motivation is his single mother, Mushelenga Nbilokelwa, who always encouraged him and his two siblings to work hard.
He said his mother, who works at NamPower as a secretary, always hustled for them, and he wanted to make sure that whatever she did was not in vain.
"My mother has been with me through my journey," he added.
Quinga also acknowledged the support and tutoring he received from his teachers.
The young pupil said he faced minimal challenges as he had the support of his mother, teachers and friends.
"My mother made sure that we had what we needed," he reiterated.
He then advised other pupils to work hard, adding that laziness is the greatest enemy of success.
"Don't set boundaries in your academic life. Be as great as you want to be, and thrive because nothing comes by luck," he said.
Quinga also advised pupils to focus on their mental health during exams, stressing that pupils should study and have time management, but that it doesn't mean they should not go out to relax their minds.
"You should take care of yourself, and talk to a life skills teacher or the principal. Make time for yourself," he noted.
As for his future, Quinga plans doing introduction to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (InSTEM) at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust), which is a bridging programme to an engineering qualification.
His second option is medicine, and although he has been accepted to do biochemistry at the University of Namibia, Quinga wants to focus on his engineering dream.
The principal of the school, Willem de Klerk, became emotional when he got up during question time at the event to say that he was happy and proud of the young boy.
Speaking to The Namibian yesterday, De Klerk said he became emotional because after the death of Abrahams, people thought the school would go down.
"We are very proud of this boy because he worked hard," he stated, adding that Quinga came to the school for Grade 10 as he couldn't find placement elsewhere.
In Grade 10, Quinga also passed with good marks.
De Klerk said the late principal always worked hard to make sure that the school received a subsidy from the government.
Schools which were also featured in the top 10 include St Boniface College in the Kavango East region with eight pupils, and the Paresis Secondary School in the Otjozondjupa region with one.
The top two performers in the ordinary level exams were Feliciter Rushubiza with 86,79% (top female performer) and Remigius Manuwere with 85,18% (top male performer). They are both from St Boniface.
Rushubiza (18), who was shocked and happy about the results, said she set goals for herself last year in order to pass the examinations.
"I was focused, dedicated, and never procrastinated because when you procrastinate, you won't learn as much as you do when you take your time to study and grasp," she reasoned.
She added that because she is a slow learner, she had to make sure she followed her set goals.
"I would advise [slow learners] to believe in themselves and not give up because education is the key, and if you use it wisely, you will open many doors for yourself," she said.
Rushubiza further stated that she also made use of her teachers and principal since she was at a boarding school, while also having the support and love from her parents.
Her next step is to study quantity surveying at Nust due to her fascination with construction, buildings and the materials used for such. In addition, she would like to become a motivational speaker and assist orphans.
Top male performer Manuwere (19) said he feels blessed, honoured and surprised to have been placed at the second spot overall.
Manuwere, who is an orphan and was raised by his aunt and uncle in a big family, said he faced peer pressure last year, and was suspended from school after he was caught with a cellphone.
He then decided to change his mindset, learned from his mistakes, and focused on his studies in order to achieve his dreams.
"My aunt and uncle are teachers, so they are people who are always up and about trying to find ways to bring money into the house. So, when I see them, I try to picture myself like I have to do something. I am an investment for them, so I have to put back what they are investing in," he said.
His plans now are to appeal for admission to study medicine since he was not accepted the first time at Unam.
Fendel Gaeseb, proud guardian of Elwina Vries, who emerged as number 9 with 82,30%, said he feels super-excited that she is part of the top 10 performers.
Gaeseb and Vries' grandmother have been supportive in her life since her father died in 2003 when she was two years old.
He said he has always advised her to have a dream and desire to become somebody.
"I have always given her books, and motivated her through different ways. Over the years, I have begun to see that it caught on, and there came a time when I was not pushing her anymore because I could see that she was doing it for herself, and that is the greatest joy to experience as a parent," he beamed.
Gaeseb, who was also a top performer at the school when he was young, said Vries likewise wanted to achieve a similar thing and have her name on the wall at her school.
Speaking to The Namibian, Vries said she always wanted to be the best, and followed advice from one of her teachers who had said "Never settle for anything less than the best."
Vries, who plans on pursuing medicine at Unam, said some of the challenges she faced were procrastination and time management.
"I would advise other pupils to mind their company, to focus, and to set attainable targets," she urged.
Other top performers were Ndeiweda Ndaamekele (83,88%), Alexander Mbareke (83,69%), Chika Sinvula (82,78%), Sherraine Mahiya (82,64%), Appolos Kaiyamo (82,49%) and Ranolda Mpareke (82,29%).