For Yvonne Dyum there were never any other options– she wanted to be a doctor! And although there were some obstacles for this daughter of two Stellenbosch farmworkers, she always kept her focus on her dream. Now her perseverance has paid off.
Dyum (24) is one of more than 700 students of Stellenbosch University's (SU) Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences who received their qualifications on Tuesday (6 December).
She was born in a rural town called Cala in the Eastern Cape, but shortly after her birth her parents came to Stellenbosch to work at the Muratie Wine Estate, situated on the R44 Road just outside the town.
Both parents – mother Cynthia and father Chriswell – are general farmworkers at Muratie.
"I went to the old Driehoek Primary School where we were only 50 learners in total. Then I attended Cloetesville High School, where I matriculated in 2009," says Dyum.
When her matric results were not good enough to be accepted for medical studies, Dyum did not give up but enrolled for the University's SciMathUS programme. This bridging programme helps matriculants to improve their marks in science and mathematics in order to be accepted for university studies.
"It gave me a huge boost and prepared me for the challenges of university studies. I also learned to focus on my strong points. After the year at SciMathUS my results were good and I was accepted to study Medicine.
"I've wanted to be a doctor since I can remember; there were never any other options," says Dyum, the youngest of two children (her older brother Leonard studied Mechanical Engineering).
Besides support from her family, she could also count on the SciMathUS teachers with whom she kept contact. "There were tough years, but the support helped a lot. And I kept my focus on my goals."
Dyum completed her final year as medical student at the Ukwanda Rural Clinical School in Worcester, where students get the opportunity to work with patients in rural areas. "I enjoyed this experience tremendously because I actually want to work in a rural area and contribute to health care in places where medical treatment is not readily available."
Next year, Dyum will return to the Eastern Cape where she will do her internship of two years in Uitenhage.
Photo: Stefan Els