The list of graduates each year from Stellenbosch University makes for interesting and heartwarming reading. A story that immediately stood out in the press release was that of 27-year-old Xolani Hadebe who has shown what true tenacity really means.
After completing matric at his rural school in Piet Retief, Mpumalanga, Xolani says he had his heart set on becoming a doctor, even though he had no idea how tough it was going to be to realise his dream.
He received numerous rejection letters from all of the Medical Schools in the country, and he knew that his mom would never be able to afford his university applications, having worked as a domestic worker her entire life. His father passed away when he was very young.
But he never gave up on his dream, and so he decided to get a job as a till packer at his local SPAR, saving as much as he could.
Working in a supermarket was one of the hardest things he has ever done. Packing groceries for his former classmates, at times, hiding, so they do not see nor pity him for working at the grocery store while they continue with their studies.
Over time he saved enough and was accepted to study at Stellenbosch University. This week he finally reached his dream and graduated as a Medical Doctor.
He says he couldn’t have done it without his family.
“I was over the moon that I finally obtained this degree, there were a lot of challenges along the road and I am so grateful for the support from my family, especially my mom.”
Dr Hadebe says, while he is back at home to spend some time with his family, he is looking forward to his future challenges.
“It’s good because another doctor has added to the list in South Africa to ease the burden of disease in the country, and I really want to help heal the nation. Next year I start my first year of internship at Newcastle Hospital and I really just want to become a well-rounded physician, a well-rounded surgeon.”
Dr Hadebe also has some advice for other young people, who may have obstacles in their road to success.
“Seek the right support, pick your friends and your environment wisely, choose friends who want to see you succeed…An I would say, don’t have too much pride, some blessings come when you’re wearing overalls.”
He says always keeping in mind ‘why’ you’re doing something can be a great motivator.
“It’s the driving fire that will keep you warm during the storm, keep you focussed like a laser. Don’t keep dwelling on the past – stay humble, work hard, it won’t be like this forever, feed your brain with positive things, and eventually, you will be done.”
Congratulations Dr Hadebe, may your fire burn brightly as you embark on your new career.