First off, let me start by introducing myself – I’m Alex, a 27-year-old journal editor and physics student studying part-time through the Open University. My journey into the realm of sciences has often been described as rather odd. The term I like to use, however, is unique.
I was born in windy Cape Town, South Africa and always had a fascination with the stars, moon and planets. I read a lot (anything from Jacqueline Wilson books to short stories on whether aliens exist or not) and kept my mind actively questioning anything and everything that came my way. Most found that quite annoying but looking back now, perhaps it was an early sign of a budding scientist.
I had an immense way with words but was not confident enough in maths or science to pursue anything near a physics degree after school. I took the safer route and completed a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, Political Studies and Media from the University of Cape Town. I gently, and somewhat reluctantly, tucked away my dreams of studying physics and, instead, focused my energy on climbing the career ladder in magazine publishing. However, after about four years of writing articles on ‘How to stay fit in winter’ and ‘10 sneaker styles to die for’, my longing to understand the ways of the universe slowly crept back in.
I then decided to save enough money to quit my full-time job and pay for a high school bridging course in mathematics and physical science which I would enrol in full-time. And that’s exactly what I did. I sold my car and used those funds for my studies, and started working part-time at a boutique candy shop to cover my day-to-day living expenses. Although it was tough, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Sure, I was the oldest person in the classroom but that didn’t matter to me. I realised that this path I was embarking on was the one I was supposed to take from the beginning. I passed both exams and was accepted to the University of South Africa to study a BSc in Physics and Mathematics. I completed a year and a half of my degree before deciding to relocate to the UK with my husband in August 2019. We made the jump, landed awesome jobs and I picked up my studies once again through the Open University.
What I’ve come to realise in life is that nothing is permanent. We all have the power to be whatever we want to be. I never thought I would have the marks or drive to study a physics degree. Yet, if you put your head down, work hard and power through, you will get there (no matter how many times you get that one quadratic equation wrong). The point is to commit and focus on achieving a goal (no matter how big or small). That way, you will be unstoppable.
This is a very excited me visiting the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) in Sutherland, South Africa.