Love and academics


Love and academics

22 May

When one thinks of history’s influential couples, Pierre and Marie Curie generally come to mind. According to an article titled ‘The 10 best power couples’, which was published in The Guardian, it was Marie’s ‘all-consuming passion for science’ that attracted Pierre. Recent University of Pretoria (UP) graduates Ivan and Susan Henrico have their own story of love and success. At the recent autumn graduation ceremonies, Ivan graduated with a PhD in Geoinformatics and Susan with an MA in Geography.

Ivan and Susan both joined the South African National Defence Force in 1997 and completed their basic military training at the SA Army Gymnasium in Heidelberg and the SA Army Women’s College in George respectively. ‘As part of our one-year course, we both underwent military intelligence training in Potchefstroom, and that is where we met,’ Susan says. From there they were both transferred to the Military Academy in Saldanha Bay (1998–2000), which is a Faculty of the University of Stellenbosch, and successfully completed their BA (Mil) degrees. They have been working together in the geospatial environment ever since.

Ivan is both inspired and motivated by his wife. ‘She is hard-working and encourages me in everything I do,’ he says. Susan is likewise motivated by her husband who, according to her, ‘is really headstrong and will not let small things get him down’. Ivan’s brother, Alfred Henrico, has played an important role in inspiring Ivan by showing him that everything is possible if you put your mind to it and are willing to put in the hours. Furthermore, they are inspired by their children, who in turn look to them for inspiration.

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With regard to achieving success, Ivan and Susan share the same sentiments and agree that anyone can achieve anything with the necessary passion and commitment: ‘Hard work, commitment and enjoyment are basically the secret formula. If you are passionate about your endeavours, all the bumps and hiccups in the process become manageable.’ They also share a common dream to be guided by the grace of God to set a good example for their two beautiful children, Tiaan (13) and Janke (9), and to inspire them to do whatever they do to the best of their ability.

Both Ivan and Susan have faced challenges that they overcame. Ivan really had to believe that he had the ability to successfully complete his PhD, and Susan learnt that instead of giving up when faced with difficulties, one should rather be inspired by them.  Both believe in living a balanced life. They work hard, but never neglect the most important part of their lives, which is their family. Ivan says that his wife, who completed her master’s degree cum laude, is smarter than he is, while Susan said that it was Ivan who taught her not to shy away from problems, but to tackle them head on and everything would fall in place. Ivan plans to continue with his postdoctoral research for the next three years, to publish more articles and maybe enter academia, while Susan plans to complete a PhD and transfer what she has learned to others in the geospatial environment.

Pierre and Marie Curie passed on the scientific gene to their children and grandchildren, some of whom became distinguished scientists. Ivan and Susan Henrico would also like to leave their children with a legacy that they will be proud of. They plan to accomplish this by continuing to live by their motto: ‘Your work is to discover your work and then to put heart and soul into it’ (Anon).

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– Author Mikateko Mbambo

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