UKZN final-year ENT/Head and Neck Surgery Registrar, Dr Nadia Karrim, recently scooped two titular awards; the first being the 100 Mandela’s of the Future and the second being the Inspiring Fifty award.

The 100 Mandela’s of the Future award was designed by News24 to identify a new generation of leaders to take South Africa forward. Media24 searched for and identified 100 South Africans who they felt embodied Madiba’s five core values of leadership, vision, creativity, compassion and resilience. Karrim was acknowledged under the Visionary category for her work.

Inspiring Fifty is a Dutch-based non-profit organisation that showcases inspiring female role models in the technology industry in The Netherlands, France, Europe, the Nordics and Africa. Inspiring Fifty annually recognises the 50 most inspiring women in the technology sector.

Karrim completed her undergraduate MBChB training at the University of Cape Town and worked abroad before returning to Durban. She is now affiliated to UKZN’s Department of Otorhinolaryngology. As a Registrar, she works between Addington Hospital, King Edward Hospital and Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital. She also chairs the South African National ENT Registrars Society and represents all ENT Registrars in South Africa to the various academic and occupational governing bodies.

In addition to being a Registrar, Karrim also works for the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC); a volunteer-driven international non-governmental, non-profit organisation that was developed at the 3rd United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III). The council aims to represent the international youth to the UN to help reflect the voice of students and young professionals in the development of space policy.

In December last year (2017), Karrim was one of 150 international United Nations delegates who attended the United Nations Basic Space Technology Initiative symposium hosted by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) in Cape Town. She attended talks and panel discussions aimed at enhancing international co-operation and information exchange in order to improve access to space technology as well as to promote the development and application of space technology to meet the UN sustainable development goals.

‘It has been an incredible journey being part of SGAC. My role as the South African National Point of Contact is to try to promote space-related careers to grow the South African space sector keep South African youth abreast of scholarship opportunities, expand their knowledge of international space policy issues, build networks as well as encourage them to think creatively about the future of humanity’s use of space. I strongly encourage anyone interested in Space to join the SGAC community,’ said Karrim.

The Pietermaritzburg-born doctor is also a qualified Aviation Medical Examiner; STEM activist; and student pilot, training part time to obtain a private pilot’s license.

‘My passion lies in human space flight and aerospace medicine, with my ultimate goal being to join an Astronaut program and pave the way for the rest of our country’s aspiring astronauts. Looking to the stars and knowing one day I will be up there looking down at earth keeps me motivated,’ she said.

The 33-year-old doctor hopes to continue contributing to the development of the South African Medical and Space Sectors. Her extended long-term plans include introducing a Space Medicine Module into the undergraduate medicine programme. Being an avid mountaineer, with a few summits already under her belt, she is also looking forward to climbing Mount Everest (to base camp) after completing her specialist exams to raise funds for new equipment for state hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal.

Words: Lihle Sosibo

Photograph: Supplied