Sinazo Bali, 23, from the University of the Western Cape (UWC), has become the first black woman in Africa to earn an honours degree in biotechnology cum laude.
In a statement by the university, Bali said completing her honours degree was difficult as she was unable to secure funding for her studies.
"It's not easy to get funding because they [scholarships] score you according to your marks and you have to give feedback every now and then," she said.
Bali studied the physiological and biochemical responses of the plant Sa lvia hispanica L., commonly known as chia.
Her supervisor, Dr Ashwil Klein, introduced her and fellow students to the plant.
Chia, which is drought resistant, is native to the mostly arid and semi-arid environments of southern and central Mexico. It is now, however, commercially cultivated in Australia, which has similar climatic conditions to SA.
Sinazo is among 635 honours graduates for UWC's autumn 2017 graduation season. She is also in the top three for biotechnology at UWC.
Sinazo is currently studying toward her masters degree in biotechnology at the university.
"I am looking forward to this new chapter of my life, but at the moment I am focusing on my masters," she said.
Authors: All Africa