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Theodor turns mountains into insignificant molehills

Theodor Loots was presented with his master’s degree in Mathematical Statistics cum laude at the April graduation ceremonies this year. This is a great achievement for anyone, but it is only when one realises that he is blind that one knows for sure what a remarkable person he really is.

Theodor was born with five percent sight, but that never prevented him from leading a full and busy life. He completed his schooling at the Prinshof School for the Visually Impaired, where he was head prefect in 2002. He says he then enrolled for Actuarial and Financial Mathematics in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, and enjoyed it immensely. “Until the end of my second year I still only had five percent sight and I could write my exams myself and do my own reading thanks to special magnifying devices. At the beginning of my third year, I completely lost my sight, and I had to consider other options in order to continue my studies. Although I was taught basic Braille at school, I didn’t know Mathematics Braille. I learnt American Braille as quickly as I could. This gave me access to many more resources,” he says.

Once again he turned a challenge into an opportunity, and then nothing could stop him from completing his studies. Together with the American Braille, the software that is generally used in mathematical sciences, LaTeX, made his studies easier.

One of the highlights of his acadamic career was the opportunity he had to present a paper at the Delta Conference – a biannual conference on undergraduate teaching in mathematical sciences – that took place in Argentina. He says it is thanks to one of his lecturers, Paul van Staden, that he was able to do it. He is also very grateful for the assistance and support of his supervisor for his master’s degree, Prof Andriëtte Bekker, and he has high praise for the Department of Statistics for helping him obtain his academic qualification.

At the moment, Theodor is employed at TransUnion’s Analytical and Decision-making Services as a credit risk analyst. He already has a topic in mind for his doctoral study and plans to enrol soon.

Theodor and Katryn Loots