Yvonne Dyum, a farmworkers daughter from Stellenbosch had always dreamed of being a doctor… and after many years of hard work and dedication, her perseverance has paid off.
Dyum, (24) left the Eastern Cape more than 20 years ago to live with her farmworker parents at a Stellenbosch wine farm, and now she is going back home – proudly carrying her medical degree.
Dyum is one of more than 700 students of Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences who received their qualifications on Tuesday, 6 December.
“When I was asked at crèche what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always the same – a doctor.”
“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.
“I went to the old Driehoek Primary School where we were only 50 learners in total. Then I attended Cloetesville High School, where I matriculated in 2009,” says Dyum.
When her matric results were not good enough to be accepted for medical studies, Dyum did not give up but enrolled for the University’s SciMathUS programme. This bridging programme helps matriculants to improve their marks in science and mathematics in order to be accepted for university studies.
“It gave me a huge boost and prepared me for the challenges of university studies. I also learned to focus on my strong points. After the year at SciMathUS my results were good and I was accepted to study Medicine.
“I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I can remember; there were never any other options,” says Dyum, the youngest of two children (her older brother Leonard studied Mechanical Engineering).
Besides support from her family, she could also count on the SciMathUS teachers with whom she kept contact.
“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.”
Dyum completed her final year as medical student at the Ukwanda Rural Clinical School in Worcester, where students get the opportunity to work with patients in rural areas.
“I enjoyed this experience tremendously because I actually want to work in a rural area and contribute to health care in places where medical treatment is not readily available.”
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.”
“Just the look on my parents’ faces when I turned to them, the feeling is indescribable.”
Next year, Dyum will return to the Eastern Cape where she will do her internship of two years in Uitenhage.
“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.”