Meet the 2015 Scholars' Scholar- Cerene Rathilal

The Scholars’ Scholar Campaign is an alumni-driven and alumni-funded initiative for those who want to give back and re-create the opportunity they have had to study. It’s about passing on the baton as alumni invest in the next generation of scholars who will effect change.

This year, 2015, our scholar is Cerene Rathilal, a PhD candidate in Mathematics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Read her inspiring story below…

What did it mean to you to be selected from so many applicants for the Scholars’ Scholar award?
Firstly, I am completely humbled that I was recognised by the alumni for this award, despite being amongst a truly remarkable group of 2015 scholars. Secondly, I believe that holding this award means that I have a responsibility to not only excel in my studies, but to fulfil a social role by investing my time and contributing to others, as others have chosen to do so in me.

What influenced your passion for mathematics?
My greatest influence, while growing up, was my Dad who always encouraged me to think “outside the box” and to constructively approach challenges. As a result, mathematics became my favourite subject at primary school and has been my natural choice of study. Today it is a permanent part of my lifestyle and I cannot see myself doing anything else.

How does your work have an impact in the wider community?
I have been providing free weekly mathematics tuition to Grade 12 students at two schools in the Phoenix area in Durban. I also provide free private tuition (from home) on alternate weekends to university students who require help.

What do you hope your research will contribute to the field?
My current research is on “The connectedness of metric frames”, which is in an area of Point-free Topology. Frame theory is a fairly recent development within Pure Mathematics that has matured over the last 50 years but still has many unanswered questions. When I am done with my research, I hope that I am able to provide useful and clear characterisations of connectedness properties for metric frames.

Conducting research is important for progression of society, it allows for innovation and for ideas to be propagated. I view research as the medium of academic communication, hence (irrespective of the subject or one’s place of study) one of the ways to make a valuable contribution is through original research.

Why is it important for alumni to ‘give back’?
Because this not only ensures the longevity of the Trust but is also a collective effort that showcases social responsibility in action…which is what we as Canon Collins scholars and alumni strive towards.

What legacy do you hope to leave as the Scholars’ Scholar?

I hope that I am able to dispel the idea that mathematics is “hard” or difficult, by sharing my love and the numerous applications of the subject and its undeniable beauty.

Please support the Scholars’ Scholar campaign by making a donation or setting up a regular contribution.