I BEAT THE ODDS TO BE A DOCTOR
YOU South Africa|9 December 2021
He set his heart on medicine but Izak Johan Haarhoff had to go to hell and back to qualify
MELON RADEBE
SECURING a medical degree can be an uphill battle and the years of academic slog, grueling practical training, and intense competition have seen many aspiring doctors fall by the wayside.

If there’s one person who could have been forgiven for dropping out, it’s Izak Johan Haarhoff. The 28-yearold has battled near insurmountable odds that would’ve broken many people: the deaths of loved ones, crippling depression, paralysis and cancer.

But Izak didn’t give up – and he was rewarded for his tenacity and courage when he went on stage recently to be capped at his university graduation.

“It was an amazing experience,” Izak tells YOU. “It was great to have my parents there and to stand on stage and get an ovation was really nice. Knowing that everything had led to this conclusion left me in tears.”

Izak will always be grateful to his alma mater, Water Sisulu University (WSU) in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, for the support he received during his years at the institution. “WSU made me the person and the doctor I am today,” he says.

IZAK grew up in Warrenton near Kimberley in the Northern Cape with his parents, Anne-Marie and Kobus, and brothers, Theo (27) and Kobus Jnr (22). His dad is a GP and inspired Izak to follow in his footsteps.

“In the December holidays after Grade 11, I landed a position job-shadowing in the orthopedics department at the Kimberley Hospital Complex. I spent 150 hours gaining valuable insight into the life of a doctor,” he recalls.

He set his heart on studying medicine and applied to medical schools across South Africa – but was told his marks weren’t good enough. Although he was an A-student, his maths marks were too low to earn him a place in the highly competitive environment, where a limited number of students are accepted each year.

“The more I was rejected, the more I wanted to show them I could do it,” he says.

WSU was one of the institutions that initially rejected him – but he then heard the varsity had reopened for late applications and he decided to give it another go.

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