Dr Maziya graduates as a medical doctor and the only black woman in MBChB cohort

Dr Thembelihle Maziya was conferred with a MBChB degree, summa cum laude on Monday at UKZN. Picture: supplied

Dr Thembelihle Maziya was conferred with a MBChB degree, summa cum laude on Monday at UKZN. Picture: supplied

Published May 9, 2024


Since the start of graduation season, graduands have been serving with glitz and glamour.

Parents ululating and celebrating their offspring, students being conferred with a slew of qualifications and what is a grand South African graduation without its official social media graduation popular song “Seanamarena”, and of course “Gaudeamus Igitur”?

On Monday, the University of KwaZulu-Natal conferred the rose among the thorns, Dr Thembelihle Maziya with a MBChB degree, summa cum laude. Maziya was the only black woman in her class of 14 students to complete the medical programme.

The 24-year-old, who hails from Tjakastad in Mpumalanga, expressed her jubilation the moment she walked on stage to be conferred with her qualification. “I was very excited. Actually, I wanted to cry, in my heart I was like ‘God this is all because of you?’. I was very emotional and happy at the same time,” said Maziya.

Maziya, who matriculated at Highveld Secondary School, said she is also the rose among the thorns at home, as she is the first-born of her siblings and first person in her family to enrol in university.

However, she thrived at school despite her parents not working.

Maziya stated the love of science, lifelong learning, serving her community and breaking the cycle of poverty in her family inspired her to pursue medicine as a career.

“I am a person who appreciates science and a lifelong learner. Knowing that medicine is rooted in science and is a dynamic profession, made me want to take the role of improving the health of people. I wanted to break the cycle of poverty back at home,” she said.

Additionally, she noted she had a strong support system of family and friends, including regular visits to church and comedy nights helped keep her mental health in check, when experiencing academic pressure.

“I would often go to church, because that was my place of solace. Sometimes I’d watch comedy, or take walks, and talk to my best friend and family about my stress.

“There was always pressure. There were times, where I felt the degree was too much and I should just quit, but then I’d think of the situation at home that maybe I’d be a laughing stock and labelled a drop-out. I had no choice, but to persevere,” said Maziya.

Furthermore, she said regular studying and finding new study methods saw her through her degree. “I was able to get my priorities straight, which involved me organising my study materials, finding a suitable learning style and seeking help when needed. I would go the extra mile when trying to gather data to understand some chapters, and sometimes join study groups and watch YouTube videos,” said Maziya.

The doctor, who has now returned home and is an intern as part of her community service at Rob Ferreira Hospital, a in Nelspruit, said she was happy and honoured to serve her community.

However, the current scourge of unemployed doctors scares Maziya that she, too, will be part of the group after completing her community service.

“It is very frustrating and scares me because I know that after three years, I will be among those doctors. It is disheartening to study so hard and see your hard work not pay off. I wish this could be addressed as early as possible, because it is honestly not fair for doctors to undergo hardships,” she said.

The Star

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