NAS Women: People with a passion for good teaching is inspiring
Women's Month: Focus on Prof Marietjie Potgieter
Q: Job title and in which department/research entity do you work?
A: Emeritus Professor in the Chemistry department, with a research focus on tertiary science education (There is a slight problem here. I am recently retired, but my emeritus status has not been activated. It was approved by Senate but is not yet signed by the VC. I think it will be safe to state Emeritus, though).
Q: What has been the highlight of your career?
A: Most certainly, the seven years that I served as Deputy Dean: Teaching and Learning. What an incredible privilege it was to get to know and work with such amazing lecturers in the Faculty! Their passion and selfless dedication to serving their disciplines and their students inspired me
Q: What inspires you?
A: People with a passion for good teaching. They care deeply about their students, even those that are irresponsible and waste their opportunities. They think about their practice, what worked and what didn't, and try to improve it. Their eyes light up when they share something with you that they experimented with in class. They always commit more time to their tasks than they can afford and suffer when their students don't excel. They inspire me greatly because they patiently build the next generation of professionals, South Africa's hope for the future.
Q: What challenges have you experienced in your career?
A: I spent eight years as a full-time mother before joining the academy in 1996. I was initially appointed on short-term contracts for more than five years, one after the other, before an opportunity arose in 2002 to apply for a permanent position. Those five years were quite challenging because of job insecurity. I was repeatedly told that there was no guarantee that I would be employed again.
Q: What message do you have for the youth of South Africa?
A: Follow your heart, pursue that which energises you, rather than to blindly chase after the most lucrative profession. Money does not satisfy the craving of your heart. If you do what you love and are good at, you will look back on your career and feel that you have not worked a single day. Instead, you will have blessed others with your talent and your service, and there is no greater satisfaction than that.