Dr Sandile Kubheka, 23, started primary school at the age of five, completed grades six and seven concurrently, matriculated at 15 and graduated from the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine at the age of 20, making him South Africa’s youngest doctor.
He attributes these achievements to hard work; not to a genius IQ (he has never had his IQ tested). As a student Kubheka didn’t just focus on his studies, he also immersed himself in various other noble causes: he was a medical school student representative council member, volunteered at a clinic in rural KwaNqetho, helped with the orientation of new students, and assisted his peers with their studies.
Kubheka was awarded the Yashiv Sham Bursary and Enid Gordon Jacob Good Fellowship prizes for being the most caring and compassionate in his class and for demonstrating leadership qualities.
His classmates voted him the student most likely to become health minister. But Kubheka would prefer to specialise in internal medicine and assist communities to combat HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and diabetes.
He chose to complete his community service in his hometown, at the Madadeni Hospital, near Newcastle, which is severely under-resourced. “I’m enjoying it and learning how to manage working within a restrained environment,” he says.
Find Kubheka on Twitter: @sandile_kubheka