Ms Gcwalisile Ncomile Mabaso received her Bachelor of Medical Science in Anatomy summa cum laude. She was also the overall top student in this programme and was the 2nd best overall achiever in third-year. 

Mabaso is now pursuing her longstanding dream of becoming a Medical Doctor and has enrolled for a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBChB) degree at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine. Her ultimate objective is to become a neurosurgeon.

‘I feel very proud. It seems like yesterday when I was a first-year watching other people graduating and wishing it was me. The feeling you have when you see that your hard work has truly paid off is priceless,’ she said.

Mabaso applied to study medicine four years ago but her application was late. On the verge of giving up, she met Mr Sanele Gamede, a career coach and educational motivational speaker who was working as a Student Assistant in the College of Humanities and he guided her to Medical Sciences.

Mabaso hails from a disadvantaged background in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal. She is the first person in her family to obtain a degree. ‘This is not only going to encourage my younger siblings, but all the young people in my community who think they cannot make it due to where they come from. When you have a vision, you will sacrifice a lot, discipline yourself and ignore any urge to quit,’ she said.

Low self-esteem and lack of courage were among the challenges she faced. She added that a university the size of UKZN can also be quite overwhelming.

‘I managed to navigate the University and made a few friends that formed part of my support structure. UKZN helped me grow in life,’ she said.

Words: Lihle Sosibo 

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan