Lenyenye Medical Student overcomes odds to graduate summa cum laude


By Staff Reporter

TURFLOOP-One of the first students to graduate with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) qualification at the University of Limpopo (UL), Dr Georgia Ramakgwakgwa, says despite her qualification conferred Cum Laude, the successful journey was not without pain and grief.

The 24-year-old Lenyenye native described how her path to a medical degree was not without heartbreak, as she had lost two close people along the way. She lost a close classmate and friend with whom she shared her study confines in their third year. She elaborates, “My friend encouraged me to put in extra effort in my studies. Losing her was an extremely emotional and depressing time in my life.”

Dr Ramakgwakgwa’s pain resurfaced in January 2021, before she could come to terms with her friend’s death, when she lost her grandmother (Maria), a pillar of her academic and moral strength. “One of the reasons I studied medicine was because of my grandmother. She pushed me to the limits by encouraging me to study hard, emphasising how she didn’t want me to resemble her (the grandmother) and my mother, who were not privileged to receive education,” she recalls emotionally.

Her grandmother raised her alone because her mother (Selina Ramakgwakgwa) worked as a domestic worker in Gauteng Province. She reflects on how she was a strong woman and proudly boasts about the positive impact she had on her professional life.

Following Dr Ramkgwakgwa’s enrollment at UL in 2016, her mother was forced to leave her job in Gauteng in 2017 to care for her sick mother.

Accepting her grandmother’s death was difficult for her, she reflected:  “When I found that I didn’t only manage to pass my final year examinations but also came out on top, the feeling was unbelievable considering what I had gone through.”

Dr Georgia Ramakgwakgwa conferred Cum Laude at University of Limpopo

She does, however, credit her family for assisting her in overcoming the darkest period of her life to become the top student in her class, as well as the academic staff at UL for their unwavering support. “My journey in medical school was replete with pain and grief, but my family supported me to continue working hard and not to let the situation drag me down, further encouraging me to make myself and the people that I lost proud.”

Her mother is grateful to the Limpopo Department of Health for providing the bursary that allowed her daughter to complete her studies. “University education is prohibitively expensive. I could not afford to pay her school fees. As a result, I will be eternally grateful to the department,” Selina Ramakgwakgwa expresses gratitude.

When asked about what she would like to specialise in after completing her internship at Lebowakgomo Hospital and Community Service, Dr Ramakgwakgwa says she has not decided yet, but her prospects are in internal medicine. “There are many options that I am still considering, but internal medicine is at the top of the list because I have always enjoyed it since the beginning of my medical training and throughout my clinical rotations. It just feels like this is me; it gratifies me.”

Story by University of Limpopo

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