“Life is too short to abandon what sets you on fire. Find your passion, work hard at it and be great. You will never look back and wish otherwise.”
This is the moto that postgraduate student Charissa Worthmann lives by, and which have encouraged her to pursue her dream of being a gymnast.
After undergoing heart surgery earlier this year, Charissa bounced back stronger than ever. She went on to win five regional gold medals at the Free State Gymnastics Championships in February 2017 and was also crowned Free State Victrix Ludorum. In October 2016 she won a gold medal for her apparatus routine at the South African Gymnastics Championships.
Charissa, who is currently doing her honours in Biokinetics at the University of the Free State (UFS), said coming from a small town was not always an advantage. “I come from a small town in KwaZulu-Natal where there are not many opportunities. Therefore there was no gymnastics. I found my natural talent, but never had the opportunity to develop it before coming to the UFS.”
Charissa’s inspiration is Prof Liesl van As, associate professor from the Department of Zoology and Entomology. She is also completing her undergraduate Zoology modules to later complete her postgraduate studies in Zoology.
“As a student, our lecturers don’t often realise it, but they shape us to aim higher in life.”
According to Charissa, Prof Van As is a woman of pure brilliance who has aspects that every woman should aspire to: Beauty, intelligence and a drive to succeed.
“I owe a vast majority of my success to her, because even though she may not realise it, her motivational attitude and success in life drove me to succeed in areas of my life.”