Ms Domonique de Klerk.
Hard work has paid off for Occupational Therapy degree cum laude graduate, Ms Domonique de Klerk.
The multi-award-winning de Klerk (22) of Pietermaritzburg said serving others was high on her list of priorities.
Her latest accolade is being one of two Distinguished Student Award recipients in recognition of her outstanding academic achievement together with excellence in community engagement
De Klerk was among UKZN Occupational Therapy students who took on the popular YouTube RAK nomination challenge and made the skydiving dream of wheelchair user, Daniel Ngcobo, come true last year. With Ngcobo in tow they parachuted out of a light aircraft!
She said this was a project she was very proud of and felt it showed that success was not only about academic achievements but also involved making time to serve others.
De Klerk said she had been astounded when it was announced she had won awards for the Best Occupational Therapy Student in Research; Best Occupational Therapy in Psychosocial Theory and Fieldwork; Best Occupational Therapy Student In Community Theory and Fieldwork; Best Occupational Therapy student in Paediatric Theory and Fieldwork; Best Occupational Therapy student in Fundamentals, and Best Overall Student in Occupational Therapy.
‘Anybody who saw me on that day can tell you I was so shocked! I was not expecting it at all. I was not the only hard worker in my class so when they called my name the first time I was so happy just to have won the research prize. Then when they just continued to call out the prizes I honestly could not believe it.
‘There was a moment when I looked up into the crowd and I saw my mom crying and all my lecturers and most of my classmates had stood up for me… I felt I was going to burst with joy.’
During her studies, de Klerk was also invited to join the Golden Key International Honour Society, nominated for the Distinguished Students’ Award and received Dean’s Commendations for her second, third and fourth year.
‘It’s been the toughest yet most rewarding four years of my life. I’m relieved that the academic pressure is off me and I am thoroughly enjoying practising what I have learned.
‘I became passionate at UKZN about OT through the influence my lecturers had on me. They instilled a sense of pride in the profession and taught me that being an OT is a lifestyle and a personality, not a profession.’
She said she was driven by goals she set for herself. ‘I want to make the profession of occupational therapy famous as I believe there are far too many people who have no idea what we do.
‘I’m also driven by sacrifices my parents made to enable me to receive the education I have. I want to make them proud.’
De Klerk, who is currently completing her community service year at GJ Crooks Hospital, wants to study further. ‘I plan to complete my Masters and PhD as soon as I figure out what field I want to go into.’