And the constant hard work and dedication has certainly paid off for the 24-year-old doctor who is now doing her two-year internship at a Pietermaritzburg hospital complex.
Pillay was named the top graduate at the UKZN’s Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine and also took home the YKSeedat prize for a summa cum laude pass as well as prizes for dermatology and paediatrics at the College of Health Sciences’ recent annual awards event.
And for the first time in the history of the School of Medicine, five students graduated with summa cum laude passes (the highest honour), and 18 with cum laude, the university said on Thursday.
Pillay, who lives in Pietermaritzburg, said that “the reality is that the harder you work for something, the greater the sense of achievement”.
She gained nine “A” passes in matric at Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School, saying on Thursday that going into medicine was a “last-minute decision” which she had never regretted.
At the end of her first year at medical school, she achieved more than 80% - and as a result received the Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship, which she continued to get every subsequent year as a result of her high marks.
Pillay is enjoying her hospital internship, and says that every day is different and brings something new.
She is undecided about what to specialise in, but says that she wants to be involved in research and the integration of medicine and technology in contributing to innovation in medicine.
Professor Rob Slotow, the deputy vice-chancellor and the head of the College of Health Sciences, said at the awards ceremony that he was looking forward to welcoming her back to UKZN to specialise.
Pillay’s parents Sharitha and Lavin Pillay were proud of their daughter’s achievements, her mother said on Thursday.
Asked if she had advice for other students, Pillay said: “Never give up, work hard, stay grounded and run your own race. Imagine, believe, achieve.”