Daughter of Stellenbosch farmworkers beats the odds to become doctor

2016-12-09 08:03
Yvonne Dyum (Supplied)

Yvonne Dyum (Supplied)

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Cape Town - After leaving the Eastern Cape more than 20 years ago to live with her farmworker parents at a Stellenbosch wine farm, Yvonne Dyum is going back home – proudly carrying a medical degree.

Dyum, 24, this week graduated from Stellenbosch University, achieving her lifelong dream of qualifying to help those who need it most.

"When I was asked at crèche what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always the same – a doctor," she told News24. "There was no second option for me. It was always medicine."

Yvonne’s parents, Cynthia and Chriswell, moved from rural Eastern Cape to Stellenbosch when she was a toddler after finding employment on the Muratie wine farm, where they still live and work in the vineyard and bottling plant.

"When as a child I told them about my big dream, they never discouraged me. They were always there, pushing me forward," she recalled.

"I never looked down on my parents, but I aspired for more. I saw what they were going through and all that they did for my brother and me. It motivated me to work hard to give them the best life, as they did for their children."

'I had to work hard'

After matriculating from Cloetesville High School in 2009, her marks were not considered good enough to study medicine.

She enrolled in Stellenbosch University's SciMathUS programme - a year-long bridging course in which students with academic potential repeat certain school subjects to gain entry to university - and in 2011 she attended her first lecture in medicine.

Her next hurdle was financing her studies.

"From day one, I had to work hard and pray that people out there would see my potential and help me get where I wanted to be. They did," she said, explaining that bursaries helped her fund her dream.

On Monday, her parents attended her oath-taking ceremony, and then her graduation on Tuesday.

"It was wonderful having my parents there. My mother cried tears of happiness. It was better than anything I could ever have envisioned."

The family then celebrated Yvonne’s success with a dinner at Devon Valley wine farm.

'I am a rural girl'

After completing her final year as a medical student at the Ukwanda Rural Clinical School in Worcester, Dr Dyum is excited to start her two year internship at the Uitenhage Provincial Hospital in her home province.

"I am, and always will be, a rural girl. I am happy and excited to be going home to help people. Life on the farm was good and we are very close to the other people we lived with. But I am excited to go home.

"I am ready to put in the work to help me succeed in life and make like easier for my parents. They didn’t have the opportunities that I have now, and I am ready to use those to improve their lives."

She encouraged those from poorer backgrounds to not allow their circumstances to determine their future.

"Use it as a stepping stone to get to something better. The opportunities are there – just grab it.

"Remember your goal and work towards it. There is no better feeling than one day actually getting there."

Read more on:    cape town  |  medicine  |  education  |  good news

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