Sandile Kubheka is celebrated as the youngest medical doctor in South Africa. He hit the high mark at the age of 20, when he graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees (MBChB) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN)’s Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine with distinctions in obstetrics and gynaecology.
The young change agent hails from Pietermaritzburg, South Africa and is the youngest of five children. He is also the first in his family to graduate with a medical degree. An achievement he delightfully shares with Talk Radio 702’s Koketso Sochane.
Kubheka’s educational journey began at the age of five and has since remained an exemplary one. After just three months in Grade 6 at the Jobstown Primary School in Masondeza, Madadeni, the precocious kid was promoted to Grade 7. An experience he enjoyed and recounts cheerfully.
School work was so easy. I was able to grasp information and recall it very quickly, which made me breeze through school, he explains.
At 15, he matriculated from Siyamukela High School, also in Madadeni and started studying towards a degree in Medicine and Surgery (MBChB).
Despite his unmatched exploits in the classroom, Kubheka admits that it was not easy being the youngest in the class.
I was confronted with social issues like my friends going out and drinking alcohol. Academically we may have been on the same wave length but socially I was very young.
He was nicknamed ‘neonate’ by his class mates (meaning a newborn), yet they agreed among themselves that Kubheka was most likely to be the Minister of Health in no distant time. And to that, the genius responds,
If it allows me to continue making a difference and improving health care for all South Africans, then yes, being Health Minister one day would be a dream come true.
Interestingly, his biggest difficulty was learning to do his own laundry, cooking, cleaning and budgeting.
I came from a home where I didn’t have to wash my own clothes, cook my own food or worry about budgeting my money for the month. In the beginning my sisters would laugh at me because I was young and they said I could not take care of myself. It was tough but I have grown and learnt a lot.
Kubheka’s inspiration for choosing the medical field is his passion to help other people. A strength, he believes he inherited from his dear mother Khangezile, who raised him and his four older siblings on her own.
She always taught us to do our best in everything and to be grateful and grounded.
While at the medical school, he elected to serve on the Rural Development Club, and the Medical Student’s Representative Council, where he offered free medical advice and treated patients in rural communities at the Happy Valley Clinic and the Madadeni Hospital. His awe inspiring efforts earned him the Yashiv Sham Bursary for having compassion and caring qualities and the Enid Gordon Jacob Good Fellowship Prize for character and good conduct.
Giving back to my community is very important to me, he says.
Kubheka’s goal is to complete his Master’s degree and become an endocrinologist- a specialist who studies diseases that affect the glands.
To the aspiring, the young change agent says “No matter how young or old you are, never give up,”