A leader among leaders

03 September 2012

FHLP chairpersonLeading by example: Itumeleng Ntatamala, outgoing chairperson of the FHLP, enjoyed his two-year tenure and will miss the camaraderie with fellow student leaders from health sciences.

The second Future Health Leaders Programme (FHLP) concluded recently with a Centenary Celebrations and Awards Evening. This year 32 participants completed the FHLP, which grooms junior health sciences students for leadership positions. The programme is run for students by students, and includes various workshops and seminars presented over five weeks. Itumeleng Ntatamala is stepping down as FHLP chairperson; here, he reflects on his role as its founding co-ordinator and the achievements of the programme in its two-years:

MP: You were part of the group of senior students who started the FHLP. What was your part in its establishment?

IN: As chairperson of the Rural Support Network in 2010, I had formed part of the Health Sciences Inter-Societies Forum, which comprised society leaders on the health sciences campus and the deputy dean of undergraduate education, Associate Professor Gonda Perez. I proposed the idea of a student leadership development programme - by the students and for the students - that would benefit all UCT societies; and was subsequently tasked by the group with drafting the proposal, sourcing the funding and being its founding co-ordinator. The FHLP was launched on 28 July 2011.

MP: What's your role in the FHLP?

IN: I liaise with the current student leaders regarding the programme, inform them of the shape that it will take and encourage them to help identify students who show leadership potential. I also lead a team of four committee members and five mentors in delivering a successful programme each year. I'm responsible for liaising with the Faculty of Health Sciences (as sponsor of the programme) regarding progress made each year, and for presenting the financial report to the Inter-Societies Forum and the Deanery.

MP: What were the aims of the FHLP when it started?

IN: The immediate aims of the FHLP were to encourage Health Sciences students to join student leadership structures, and to equip them with the necessary skills to serve on these structures. The long-term goal, however, was to begin grooming a cohort of students and future graduates from this university that will go on to lead the South African health system.

MP: Do you think the programme has lived up to those early ambitions?

IN: The programme has certainly lived up to the expectations. Forty per cent of the 25 students who graduated from the programme last year took up leadership roles on campus, ranging from members of the Health Sciences Student Council (HSSC) to being Steering Committee members of developmental organisations such as SHAWCO Health. This year alone, eight students from the FHLP contested the 2013 HSSC elections, and all were all elected to the committee of 12 members.

MP: You're about to leave - what will you miss about it?

IN: I'll definitely miss the candid interactions I have had with each new cohort of students into the programme [laughs]. I will also miss working with the team to successfully deliver the programme each year; the exciting brainstorming sessions, evaluations, and making adjustments after each session has helped us forge a camaraderie that I believe will last even beyond UCT.

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