Winner of Dr Maurice Curé College, Hannah Bibi Arfaah Emambocus won the prestigious SSR National Scholarship on Wednesday February 7. This Sunday, the 19-year-old resident of Rose-Hill reveals her journey to us.
Winner of the SSR National Scholarship, how do you feel?
This is a scholarship highly coveted by students who are in the scientific sector. I am very happy to have given this honor to my college. This demonstrates that students from Dr Maurice Curé (DMC) can also excel, like those from Queen Elizabeth College, which generally obtains this scholarship.
Are you gifted?
(Laughs). I wanted to be a winner and I am. As I adore my little brother Farhaan, I leave this title to him. He is the little genius of the family. He is in Grade 10 at the Royal College of Curepipe and he has just won a prize for having excelled in eight subjects.
Have you won prizes every year since you were at school?
Yes, it's true.
Hang in there (laughs). In Std V, I got a prize for a spelling competition. I got prizes for Urdu language. For the Certificate of Primary Education, I got six A+s. At DMC, I was Best Performer in Grades 9 and 10. In Grade 11, I got six units.
For the School Certificate, I was ranked Top of the World for Chemistry and Top of the World for Computer Science. I also came first in mathematics, second in physics, fifth in accounting and fifth in English in Mauritius. And now, I am first in science and holder of the SSR National Scholarship.
What is the secret of this academic success?
I would say it's a great deal of self-discipline. But also my faith in God, the support of my parents and my teachers. The support of my sister, my brother, my grandmother and my friends also contributed to my academic success. Hard work to always give the best of myself in everything I do since I was very little has allowed me to succeed in my schooling.
Who do you get this character trait from?
From my father, obviously. He is a true perfectionist. He wanted me to go to QEC. I am happy to prove to him today that, even though I am at DMC, I have become a winner. And not just any one! (laughs)
Your mom says you're a miracle baby…
My mother was six months pregnant when the doctor detected a problem in my intestine. Two months later, I was born. Immediately afterwards, I had difficulty breathing. I had surgery before spending over a month in intensive care. Today, I am in great shape, as you can see. Now that I am a scholarship holder, my mother, who is very proud, is changing her tune. I became his “wonderful miracle baby”. (Laughs).
Did your parents put pressure on you to study?
My mother is a professor at John Kennedy College. So, she is very demanding. My father was first in his class for his MBA. My sister Sanyya, who is a Senior Associate at PWC, won several awards when she was at Ébène SSS.
Growing up, I wanted to win prizes too. There were also a lot of expectations from me. I wanted my parents to be proud of me. I gave my all to my studies, even if sometimes it was heavy.
How did you experience your preparation for the HSC exams?
With the shifts in the school calendar, it was tiring in terms of revisions. I wanted to get the exams over with as quickly as possible. For a year, I limited outings and followed my revision plan.
To be a winner, there are no instructions, each student studies in their own way. What helped me was the self-discipline to work methodically. I hate approximations. I think that by organizing yourself, you can focus on achieving your goals.
Why did you want to be a winner?
I want to become an actuary. I did the math (laughs). Since it's a lot of money to study actuarial science at a university abroad, I didn't want to add this burden to my parents. Obtaining a scholarship was therefore very important to build my professional future. My plan B, if I didn't get it, was to study actuarial sciences at the University of Mauritius.
Now that you are on a scholarship, what changes?
Currently, I am interning at PWC. I will shortly begin my applications for universities in England and Canada. I can now continue my higher studies in actuarial sciences with complete peace of mind.
Why this sector?
Simply because there are more professional opportunities. Although it is complicated and the exams are difficult, I have to pass them to have the professional career I dream of.
And yet, chemistry is your favorite subject…
Yes. I would have liked to become a chemical engineer, but my father, who is a mechanical engineer, advised me against it. So, since I love mathematics, I'm going to get into actuarial science. At HSC, I passed my exams for the Further Maths subject in June 2023. So, I think I'm all set to study to make my dream come true.
Will you come back to Mauritius?
If interesting opportunities present themselves, why not!
(Laughs) Now, I think it's learning to cook, because I'm going to have to fend for myself when I go abroad for my studies.
Finally, what are your passions?
I love reading and listening to music. I am a big fan of the singer Taylor Swift. I love baking. And I also like to go for a walk in the malls with my friends from time to time.