Bonteheuwel celebrates its latest doctor

Dr Shanel Hendricks, third from left, and her family were treated to a celebration at Bonteheuwel High School on Thursday December 16. With her are, from left, her sister Antoinette Hendricks, grandmother Janet Wyman, mother Sandra Hendricks, sister Anthea Hendricks and Bonteheuwel High School principal, Nicola Pather.

The Bonteheuwel community is celebrating its latest qualified doctor, with congratulatory messages flooding social media for Dr Shanel Hendricks.

Dr Hendricks graduated as a medical doctor from Stellenbosch University on Tuesday December 14.

In tune with the festive pride her qualification led to, Dr Hendricks and her family were invited to her former school, Bonteheuwel High, for a celebration on Thursday December 16.

According to principal Nicola Pather, this is the first time in her 32 years at the school that a former pupil qualified as a medical doctor.

“We are really excited about this. This is the first time in my tenure at the school that we have a doctor who is a former pupil,” Ms Pather said.

Dr Hendricks said being referred to as “doctor” still feels surreal to her. Her degree did not come easy – apart from the workload and commitment it entailed, she also underwent one of the biggest challenges of her life – having her father pass away while she was writing examinations two years ago.

“It was a difficult seven years. I received good support from my mother and sisters though.

“My father sadly passed away two years ago, and it happened during my exams. I also struggled a lot to secure bursaries, but thankfully I received bursaries from the Western Cape health department as well as the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

“Things were challenging. It was my first time being away from home, as I had to move into student residence. Despite the challenges though, I reminded myself why I am doing this – because I want a better life for my family, and make a real difference in people’s lives. Healthcare is vulnerable and this is a platform where I can make real change,” Dr Hendricks said.

Her mother, Sandra Hendricks, is also bursting with pride.

“I am excited and I am very proud of Shanel. I want to thank all those who made this happen for her – above all, I thank God,” Ms Hendricks said.

Ms Pather said it only takes one teacher to believe in a child to make their dreams a reality.

“Shanel’s former mathematics teacher, Hebrew Godden, was the one who encouraged her to study medicine.

“Another teacher, Raeez Rayner, led a team of others to help Shanel move into the residence in Stellenbosch. It was really a team effort from the staff, and hence we are celebrating her as Bonteheuwel High.

“This is all from humble beginnings. I reminded Shanel again to never forget where she comes from. That she should know her roots and plough back by assisting our young children and seniors. We could not be prouder of her achievements,” Ms Pather said.