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Teenager excels despite challenges she faced as a country girl

Seventeen-year-old Thandazile Ngubane, who is overjoyed at being accepted to study at UKZN for a bachelor's degree in dental therapy, says challenges she faced as a youngster were exacerbated by the fact that she grew up in a secluded rural area.

"Growing up and schooling in an out-of-the-way area is not easy - one needs to constantly make an extra effort and work that much harder to succeed," said Ngubane.

"Fortunately, I worked very hard in my matric year and that has paid off."

Ngubane, who spent her childhood in KwaNgwanase in northern KwaZulu-Natal, is grateful for the support and encouragement she received from teachers at the Star of the Sea School in kwaMhlabuyalingana, where she matriculated. "While at school, we visited the Manguzi Hospital for a career choices experience, and that was when I fell in love with dental therapy. I hope that once I complete my degree, I will be able to work there and serve my community."

Ngubane says her family is very proud that she matriculated with three distinctions, which earned her acceptance into the dental therapy programme.

Her family struggles financially, which is motivation for her to work extra hard and hopefully secure student financial aid as she desperately needs money to buy textbooks and all the necessities required at university.

The academic leader of the discipline of dentistry, Dr Ahmed Muslim, welcomed Ngubane into the programme and wished her every success, saying the primary focus of mid-level workers such as dental therapists was that of primary healthcare. Muslim said the KwaNgwanase community would reap the benefits when Ngubane returns home after completing her studies to work in the area. The principle of "umuntu umuntu ngabantu" applies, and he urged all potential sponsors to rally around students such as Ngubane and invest in their futures, as this uplifts the communities they would probably go on to serve in the future.