At the end of 2015, I decided to apply for Master’s degree. I thought about the impact it would have on my life, I am married with a full time job and would definitely take some sacrifices but somehow the rewards seem to be so much more. Many people do this full time, and barely have time for anything else but I wanted to be extraordinary…so I submitted my documents (still being in two minds and thought whatever happens is clearly meant to be), writing the project proposal was quite a challenging task as I have studied 5 years ago, so my writing was somewhat rusty! Nevertheless, being on edge for about two weeks I received my acceptance letter! This was an amazing opportunity for personal and career growth and was more excited than nervous about this new journey despite people’s criticism and frowns.
The acceptance letter was the green light to start with the project planning, statistical design of the experiment and meeting with my professor for guidance on what the industry wants to gain from this research. Research has always been one of my ultimate favorite things to do, it challenges me in a way I never thought possible and it is hands down one of the most rewarding feeling when you get to tell someone what your research is about. Very few people talk “science” and therefore when I find someone that shows interest or knows even a little bit of what I talk about, I kind of respect the person on another level.
My laboratory research started in June 2016, I was up and sampling at 5am every second Friday for 9 months…there were a lot of ups, but definitely more downs during this period. You doubt yourself on some of these days wondering why you ever even started, you doubt whether you have what it takes to finish this huge responsibility and somehow I made it through. When you get to see your results, graphs showing increases and decreases, after processing your samples in the laboratory for 8 grueling hours and your get to go home, after your processed 180 samples you get to see a positive detection for a pathogen you were looking for…that is what makes it worthwhile!
In February 2017, I received an invitation to the SAAGA symposium in Tzaneen. This was an fantastic platform within the industry to present my preliminary results. In June 2017 I represented myself and the University of Pretoria at the International Postharvest pathology symposium in Skukuza, South Africa (http://www.postharvest2017.co.za/). The symposium brought together the postharvest pathology researchers from across academic spheres from around the globe and delegates shared their scientific research, developed new collaborations and strengthened existing networks.
What I learnt from being this busy, was that time management is key! Time is a very valuable thing a lot of people take for granted. Although I have very little time on my hands, I get everything done I plan for everyday and even have time to keep physically active (Bonus!). Planning your day makes a huge difference to how many things you get done and how effectively you live. Another thing: doing what you love is not work at all.
“It always seems impossible, until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela