Beyond Boundaries: Fully online public health diploma helps Mavis van Wyk boost healthcare skills

Posted on May 20, 2024

Working as a healthcare worker in Angola during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mavis van Wyk decided to take a chance on herself and further her education.

Aged 51, she enrolled for the fully online Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) in Public Health offered by the University of Pretoria (UP). Since she works at an oil-reef plant in Soyo, Angola, studying for this UPOnline programme offered by UP’s Comprehensive Online Education Services afforded her the flexibility to learn more about public health while still caring for her patients. Two years after starting her studies, Van Wyk was among the thousands of students who received qualifications at UP's 2024 Autumn Graduation ceremonies. She received her diploma during the Faculty of Health Sciences’ graduation ceremony on 19 April 2024.

"My passion for public health motivated me to sign up for the UPOnline programme," Van Wyk says about pursuing studies as a working professional. Even more impressively, she obtained a distinction for her PGDip in Public Health, which is her second UP qualification. Her first was a bachelor's degree in nursing administration in 2003. "I finished my nursing diploma at the end of 1993, and in 1994 I began working as a registered nurse. I was granted permission by the University of Pretoria to pursue a degree after finishing my diploma in 1993."

A life committed to healthcare

Van Wyk credits her Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health success to outstanding tutors and support at UP. "The University has very high standards and a well-organised structure. I sincerely appreciate Tukkies and am proud of everything I have accomplished up to this point in my life."

Born in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, Van Wyk has committed her life to healthcare, a passion that has led her to various international locations, providing medical assistance to people in need. She worked as a registered nurse on a cruise ship in the US, travelling to places such as New York City, Grand Turk, Jamaica, Belize, Puerto Rico, Antiqua and Barbuda. She has also worked with the non-profit organisation Operation Smile in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In her current job as Network Engineer Operational Manager and Clinical Specialist at the Steve Biko Hospital in Pretoria, she is part of an international team working with stroke survivors. Van Wyk will soon bid farewell to colleagues in the hospital's Stroke Unit as she prepares to start a new job as a registered nurse in New Zealand at the end of May 2024.

Looking back with gratitude at her educational journey, she encourages students to work hard and stay focused. “You can never be too old to pursue education. If I, at 53, could earn my diploma with distinction, you can too!”

Are you looking for a flexible, engaging way to enhance your knowledge and skills? Unlock your potential with fully online programmes from the University of Pretoria. More information at

- Author Amanda Tongha

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