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19-year-old Iziphozonke Mlambo grew up as a sick child but now wants to cure others

Iziphozonke Mlambo

Iziphozonke Mlambo

Published Aug 1, 2022

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Durban - Iziphozonke Mlambo was raised in the little rural community of Osizweni, Newcastle. Despite originating from modest circumstances, he had a desire of becoming a doctor from a young age.

The 19-year-old is enrolled at Biola University in California, in the US, to study Human Biology. Mlambo also suffered from several health conditions.

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“I grew up with a very weak immune system. I spent most of my time in and out of hospitals and clinics, specifically government hospitals.

“I also suffer from acute sinusitis, a respiratory disease that affects your sinuses and can sometimes lead to asthma, a post-nasal drip, and bronchitis.”

Mlambo has been included in the top 50 shortlist for the Chegg.org Global Student Prize 2022, an annual $100 000 (R1.6 million) award to be given to one exceptional student that has made a real impact on learning.

Being selected as one of the top 50 finalists came as a shock to Mlambo. To verify that he was not daydreaming, he had to read the email six times and even asked one of his friends to proofread it to make sure.

Mlambo has touched lives through Science Buddies, a non-profit he co-founded and is the vice president of. The goal of this initiative is to enrich the youth with science, specifically learners from primary to secondary school.

Through the organisation, the high achiever assists young scientists. He gives them the opportunity to participate in global science fairs and competitions, while giving them access to a personal professional mentor that helps them with verbalising their innovative ideas and solutions.

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“Science Buddies has reached more than 100 learners from different backgrounds, and has connected them to over 50 mentors. It has partnered with more than 15 science fairs, societies and competitions worldwide,” Mlambo said.

He has served as one of the executive directors of Osizweni Youth Interdenominational Services (Oyis), an organisation that focuses on spreading Christian religious teachings through seminars, business workshops, soup kitchens, revivals, and youth conference.

“We have also partnered up with local psychological services to assist many young people who have been through challenges such as violence, abuse, drug, and alcohol addiction,” he said.

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He and his colleague, Tinashe Sumaili, have launched a non-profit company called “The Rising Stars Foundation”. Its focus is on developing a better youth for tomorrow.

The organisation helps Grade 12 learners with university and bursary applications. If necessary, they are also provided with free psychometric tests from the internet, which assist them with their career choices.

Mlambo’s biggest inspirations are Dr Smith, his professor and mentor from school, Dr Mbele from his hometown, and Dr Okpara, a prominent young doctor in the US who also came from humble beginnings in Nigeria.

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The global student prize was created last year by the Varkey Foundation in partnership with Chegg.org.

Chegg’s chief executive Dan Rosensweig said since its launch last year, the prize has given students all over the world a chance to share their stories, connect with each other, and reach influencers in education and beyond.

“Now, more than ever, students like Iziphozonke deserve to have their stories told and have their voices heard. After all, we need to harness their dreams, their insights, and their creativity to tackle the daunting and urgent challenges facing our world,” Rosensweig said.

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, congratulated Mlambo on his nomination.

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