Five MBChB students in the Class of 2016 will graduate summa cum laude from UKZN’s Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine this year.
They are Dr Preyanka Pillay, Dr Kristy Herridge, Dr Karishma Heeramun, Dr Siveshin Moodley and Dr Yusuf Khatib.
‘It was a huge surprise to receive the news,’ said Herridge. ‘My family is very proud to have a doctor in the family and glad to see my hard work paid off. Right now I’m concentrating on surviving internship so I can’t say exactly what the future holds for me.
‘The pursuit of excellence keeps me going – mediocrity is just not good enough,’ she said.
Durban-born Herridge had this advice for other aspirants: ‘Hard work, perseverance and discipline are the key to success and that means missing parties, nights out and holidays. It’s all about getting priorities right.’
Herridge comes from a very supportive family, ‘When I quit my good job in Johannesburg to study medicine, I received nothing but unconditional love and support. Both emotional and financially.
‘I’m not a genius. What I do have in abundance, however, is a desire and drive to excel, reach my potential and accomplish goals I set for myself! I say this because these achievements are not limited to those gifted with superior intellect. They are in reach of every student who puts in the effort. It’s not rocket science. It’s the daily grind.’
Completing his Medical degree so successfully came as a shock to Moodley, ‘I confirmed it several times but I only really believed it after the announcement by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor.
‘The news brought great joy to my family. It was something surreal to tell the truth. One of my goals in life is to do my best and make my family proud and I have managed that.
‘I would never have been able to achieve what I did without my family influences and no amount of words can describe the gratitude I have for them. I achieved what I did through the cumulative input of my social influences, my family and my lifestyle.
‘It also showed me that I am in the right profession because although the road was tough, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was never a nerd to the point that studying was my life. Quite the contrary actually.’
Moodley has always enjoyed a challenge, ‘I believe in pushing myself. I know I have boundaries but I always strive to push myself to the limits and if possible beyond. I try to have a balanced life. Exercise is life for me. I would go crazy if all I did was study. I find exercise to be the best release.’
He advised those still studying to enjoy life and flourish. ‘Some people say stop dreaming and face reality; I say keep dreaming and make reality. Don’t follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave your trail.’
Heeramun said it was ‘amazing’ to complete her degree summa cum laude. ‘I am so grateful that all the years of hard work have paid off.’
Her family was overwhelmed when they heard the news. ‘They were so excited that they started phoning all our relatives to tell them. They have been so supportive towards me over these years, it feels really good to see how happy and proud I have made them.
‘These six years have been full of challenges with hardly a dull moment in Medical school.
She is currently doing her internship in the Free State and hopes to specialise in Paediatrics.
Khatib said his results were motivation for him to continue to strive for excellence in the field of medicine, ‘I hope to specialise as a physician and I would also like to be at the forefront of technology and innovation in healthcare.’ Khatib’s achievement fulfilled his late grandfather’s dream of having a doctor in the family.
Pillay is thrilled to be among the top students. ‘The reality is the harder you work for something the greater the sense of achievement. I have always aimed for excellence in the hope that success would follow.’
‘My family is extremely proud and happy that I accomplished my goals. These results have given me a sense of accomplishment knowing that my hard work and sacrifice have paid off. I am very grateful to my family for their love and support.’
Pillay is currently doing her internship at the Pietermaritzburg Hospital Complex.
Although she has not decided what to specialise in, she wants to be involved in research and the integration of medicine with technology in order to contribute to improvements and innovation in medicine.
Her advice to students is: ‘Never give up, work hard, stay grounded and run your own race. Imagine, believe, achieve.’