#UPGraduation2021: 24-year-old becomes youngest PhD graduate from UP’s School of Health Systems and Public Health

Posted on September 20, 2021

A 24-year-old University of Pretoria (UP) student has become the youngest person to graduate with a PhD from the University’s School of Health Systems and Public Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Dr Rose Nabi Deborah Karimi Muthuri graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Systems at the faculty’s recent virtual spring graduation ceremony, at which 147 graduates were honoured. “I hope this will inspire more young people to pursue their dreams,” she says. “Earning my Doctor of Philosophy is one of the biggest highlights in my academic career. It was an extremely challenging journey, but also a blessing and a dream come true.”

Dr Muthuri is a Kenyan citizen who was born in South Africa in 1997 but left for Kenya when she was a year old. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Counselling Psychology (magna cum laude) and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology (magna cum laude) from the United States International University-Africa in Kenya, and graduated top of her class in both instances.

The enthusiastic academic is passionate about using research to enhance the performance of health systems. Her doctoral thesis highlights the importance of improving the health and well-being of healthcare workers, with a view to improving the performance of the national health system. “I realised that there was a gap in the positive mental health aspects among the health workforce, and chose to pursue a PhD in health systems to gain an in-depth understanding of these workers and their well-being,” she explains.

Dr Muthuri says she is motivated and inspired by many people and experiences. “Most importantly, the idea is never to lose one’s concept of self, because that is what makes an individual unique. Putting God first keeps me motivated and inspired to contribute to improving the health and well-being of others.”

She is also grateful for the administrative and academic support that she received from the UP community. “The University helped me in many ways, mainly by creating an enabling environment that encouraged me through the various learning resources available to students and to strive for excellence throughout my studies.” She also credits her supervisors for their unwavering focus, which helped her to cultivate her creativity and drive for excellence when things got challenging. “I was privileged to have knowledgeable, experienced, committed and inspiring supervisors – Professors Flavia Senkubuge and Charles Hongoro,” said Dr Muthuri, who also acknowledged the support of her parents over the course of her studies.

One hundred and forty-seven graduates were honoured at the recent virtual spring graduation.

The virtual graduation can be viewed below.

- Author Mmane Boikanyo

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