‘Find a mentor’, doctors in waiting urged

23 December 2019 | Story Niémah Davids. Photo Michael Hammond. Read time 4 min.
Guest speaker Dr Dumani Kula stressed the importance of a mentor to MBChB graduands to  kick-start their careers in the overburdened healthcare sector.
Guest speaker Dr Dumani Kula stressed the importance of a mentor to MBChB graduands to kick-start their careers in the overburdened healthcare sector.

As the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) 2019 MBChB cohort prepared to take to the stage to receive their degrees and start a new chapter of their lives outside campus, they were urged to find a mentor to help them on their way.

This was the sound advice guest speaker Dr Dumani Kula offered the 150 doctors in waiting on Monday, 23 December. Kula is the deputy CEO of Clinix Health Group, pioneers in affordable quality healthcare to underserviced communities in South Africa.

The morning ceremony concluded UCT’s 2019 summer graduation season, which comprised six ceremonies over a three-day period this month. The university capped 1 771 graduands and conferred three honorary degrees to renowned academic, Professor Jonathan Jansen, world-renowned biochemical engineer, Dr Georges Belfort, and leading scientist in molecular genetics and biochemistry Dr Marlene Belfort.

UCT also used this graduation season to celebrate and honour outgoing Chancellor Graça Machel. Machel’s tenure comes to a close at the end of the month when she will hand over the baton to incoming Chancellor Dr Precious Moloi Motsepe.

Addressing the “latest crop of healthcare professionals”, Kula, a UCT alumnus, congratulated graduands on their achievement, and paid homage to their families, friends and teachers for their indelible contribution to the students’ lives.

And for graduands who are about to embark on their careers in the severely under-resourced and overburdened healthcare sector, he stressed the importance of finding a mentor to provide insight and help shape their paths as health professionals.

“As you go into the next phase of your lives, I want to suggest to you to secure at least one person who you can rely on. You will achieve more, faster,” he said.

Mentor vs midwife

Kula likened the role of a midwife, who assists expectant mothers during the “extremes” of the birthing process, to a mentor, who offers guidance and coaching to young professionals.


“It is a mentor who [will] affirm you during those critical moments of vulnerability and doubt.”

He told graduands to make use of a mentor to assist with the transition from university life to the demanding field of medicine.

“It is a mentor who [will] affirm you during those critical moments of vulnerability and doubt,” he said.

But aside from the obvious advantages that come with a mentor, he said a mentor would also help determine whether climbing the ladder in the profession would be a slow process, or help graduands “jump the queue on your way to success”.

“A mentor helps to crystalise and shape your vision of the future, as the midwife does for expectant mothers in those first few weeks of pregnancy,” he said.

“When you feel defeated, down and out, it’s your mentor who will help breathe new life into your dream. I look forward to seeing you in the field as we strengthen our country’s health system.”

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December graduation 2019

The University of Cape Town will be celebrating the graduation of 1 960 of its students over six graduation ceremonies on 12, 13 and 23 December, which include the conferral of three honorary doctorates and the presentation of the UCT Book Award and the UCT Creative Works Award. This graduation season, we also bid a fond farewell to our chancellor, Mrs Graça Machel, who has been the titular head of the university for the past 20 years. Her compassionate and dedicated service to the university will be deeply missed.
Farewell Chancellor Graça Machel

Our stories: inspirational graduates

UCT part of PhD graduand’s destiny As Olivia Matshabane prepared to receive her PhD from UCT this month, she said the highs have outweighed the lows during her journey. 20 Dec 2019
Former Miss SA’s road to graduation Tamaryn Green will graduate with her MBChB from UCT on Monday, 23 December, and says she will forever remember the “challenging yet fulfilling” seven-year journey. 19 Dec 2019
Through dysphoria to a doctoral degree Velile Vilane’s journey to a PhD from the Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment goes beyond the degree – it’s about coming into being. 12 Dec 2019
Balancing a baby and the books Rejoice Gorni, a student at UCT’s Graduate School of Business, returned to lectures just days after giving birth to complete her PGDip in management. 12 Dec 2019
‘Education was my only hope’ Monica Damane, who will graduate on Thursday, 12 December, with her MSc in engineering says the road to this achievement has been far from easy. 11 Dec 2019
‘I refused to be called a failure’ Having endured personal setbacks and defied the odds, Furaha Abwe will graduate with his PhD in Architecture and Planning on Thursday, 12 December. 11 Dec 2019
Swimming upstream – the second-chance graduand This week UCT celebrates its inspirational graduands, students such as staffer Nombuso Shabalala who reclaimed her life after a traumatic event had left her becalmed. 10 Dec 2019
Burn the boat to win the island Having worked her way through to her doctoral studies, Delta Ndou will soon don the sought-after red robe to receive her PhD in Media Studies at UCT. 10 Dec 2019
Dream big and apply yourself fully Musa Kika arrived at UCT to study for an LLM, but his master’s was upgraded and he will be graduating in December with a PhD. 09 Dec 2019
Graduation speakers