In honour of Heritage Month, the Department of Chemical Engineering will feature a few of our students — local and international — in celebration of our Department’s wealth of cultures, heritage and diversity.
First in the spotlight is master’s research student Jamie van Wyk. She is conducting research focused on bioenergy production — a topic that she finds fascinating due to its incorporation of science and its focus on addressing socio-economic issues. Her supervisors are profs Eugene van Rensburg and Johann Görgens.
Jamie hails from Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa. Interestingly, she was born in the country’s judicial capital, Bloemfontein, where most of her family still lives. Jamie has been a proud “Pretoria girl” since age one. “I love the famous jacaranda trees that blossom and decorate the streets of the city,” she says. “It was always such a serene feeling to see, and it is an image that remains in my mind.” Jamie’s fondest memory of living in the Jakarandastad include rugby Saturdays at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium and family road trips to nearby heritage sites like the Cradle of Humankind. “My parents encouraged us to know about our own history and the country as a whole,” Jamie explains. “My favourite thing about South Africa is the people. We have a beautiful country with gorgeous scenery, but the vibe and energy of South African people are unmatched.”
Some of Jamie’s favourite cultural traditions include preparing seven colours Sunday lunch with her family and attending the yearly Kaapse Klopse. “It’s part of the coloured culture, and my family tries to attend every January,” Jamie says. She also enjoys viewing different towns’ Christmas liggies (lights) and “braai‘ing whenever a sunny day appears”. When asked why she is proud of her heritage, Jamie says: “It embodies and reflects the true diverse building blocks of our rainbow nation.”