UP health sciences alumna among the ten awardees of the 2021 Southern African Rhodes Scholarship

Posted on February 03, 2021

University of Pretoria (UP) alumna Dr Reantha Pillay has been named as one of ten awardees of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship for 2021. Dr Pillay graduated cum laude with an MBChB from UP’s Faculty of Health Sciences in 2017.

“It is incredibly humbling to be afforded this transformative opportunity. I am grateful to the Rhodes Trust for this privilege. My selection is not my victory alone. It is the victory of every individual who nurtured and invested in me,” she says.

The Rhodes Scholarship was first awarded in 1902 and is the oldest and perhaps most prestigious international scholarship programme. The scholarships are awarded to young people who are deemed to display outstanding intellect, character, leadership and commitment to service.

“The Rhodes Scholarship funds two years of postgraduate study at the University of Oxford. I will be reading towards a taught masters in the field of public health,” says Dr Pillay, adding that  the scholarship presents the opportunity to realise a dream that she has harboured since she visited the University of Oxford with her parents at the age of seven.

She says this scholarship will also offer a brief sabbatical from her clinical work and an opportunity to challenge and broaden herself alongside like-minded people as they workshop solutions for the world.

“My intended course of study, the Oxford MSc in International Health and Tropical Medicine, produces global health leaders capable of addressing challenges in resource-constricted environments like ours. The programme uses a combination of formal teaching and peer learning which is enriched by a multinational cohort with experience in a resource-constricted environment. The emphasis on knowledge sharing and a highly flexible course that can be tailored to variable health interests is appealing. While I love clinical medicine and being a foot soldier in the South African public health system has been an honour, I have become increasingly aware that systemic change is required. In order for me to continue to be a part of the solution, a thorough foundation in public health is essential, hence the choice of course.”

“Armed with this I hope to lend my voice to leadership in South African and global health. In the medium term, on my return to South Africa I hope to begin my specialisation in paediatrics.”

Sharing some of her fondest memories while studying at UP, Dr Pillay says she particularly enjoyed the tutorials and small group teaching at Kalafong Hospital with Professor Daniel Stephan Rossouw. “His incredible collection of internal medicine slides and even more impressive scope of knowledge is inspiring.”

Dr Pillay advises aspiring doctors to treat every patient with care and compassion, as if they were their very first patient. “You will see hundreds of patients every month in busy clinics and emergency departments, but to that mum with her sick little one or gogo with chronic aches you are the only doctor they have seen all year. Give them the holistic care they deserve.”

Click here for more information on funding, bursaries and scholarships, and learn more about Rhodes Foundation scholarships here.

- Author Xolani Mathibela

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2024. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences