Meet Dr Thakgalo Thibela, South Africa’s Youngest Female Medical Doctor


On 17 December 2020, at age 21, she obtained a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Dr Thibela was born and raised in Violet Bank, a village in the small town of Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga province, South Africa.

She attended Farel Primary School where she was smart enough and skipped Grade 7, enrolled straight to Lehlasedi High School where she also did not do Grade 9. The Circuit Manager managing the circuit where her Primary School and High School fell under made a decision that learners who perform exceptionally well academically get to skip grades so she was not the first one nor was she the last to skipped some grades.

Dr Thibela feels she was just fortunate enough to have skipped 2 grades because of her academic excellence. She was promoted from Grade 6 to 8 and from Grade 8 to 10. The change in schools and the age gap it brought about did not really negatively affect her.

At age 16, she received a bursary from Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and got admitted to the University of Witwatersrand, where she successfully enrolled for a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degree.

Dr Thibela continued to work hard in a cutthroat field of study and her efforts earned her a Golden Key International Honorary membership.

“I’ve always wanted to do medicine since my days in pre-school. This dream almost got shattered when my Grade 11 results came back and they were nowhere satisfactory and this pushed me to do my best in matric in order to get accepted to study medicine. I attended all the extra classes and studied throughout the night with my friends. This paid–of though as I ended up with 7 out of 8 distinctions in matric,” she said.

Dr Thakgalo Thibela is currently doing her internship at Helen Joseph Hospital and intends on becoming a Neurosurgeon in the nearest future.

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