Cape Town - Research psychologist and epidemiologist, Lynn Hendricks, 36, from a gang-ridden community of Bonteheuwel is flying the South African flag at the Katholieke Universiteit (KU) Leuven in Belgium, for her outstanding research.
Hendricks was among “exceptional students” chosen from developing countries and was awarded a R2 million PhD Global Minds Scholarship.
When she was awarded the prestigious scholarship through Leuven University, Hendricks had not prepared herself for temperatures of -6º and for the lonely, overwhelming feeling of being in a new country.
Hendricks, a recent graduate of the MSc Clinical Epidemiology programme at the faculty of medicine and health sciences, Stellenbosch University, said it had all been worth it.
“In the first four weeks I have already learnt more about arts-based research than I ever did reading books and papers,” she said.
Hendricks works at the Centre for Evidence Based Health Care (CEBHC), as a teaching facilitator, and is already spending four to five months at Leuven University every year.
“My PhD research will involve working with young women in Bonteheuwel to explore how their social and physical environments affect their health and health care decision making," she said.
“Additionally, we will be exploring the use of creative art research methods in community participatory research as decolonial research practice.
“Already the lessons are emerging as I navigate the academic and community space and even as we negotiate how we understand decolonial research practices across contexts,” Hendricks said.
She said the Global Minds PhD award allows her to work on her PhD full time at the Centre for Evidence-Based Health Care, Global Health department.
The faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, sponsors her research costs, tuition, and for travel and accommodation at the Centre for Sociological Research at KU Leuven for up to 24 months during her studies.
“I feel grateful and honoured. I can’t believe that after all these years of working towards my PhD, I am finally able to do it.
“It’s been years of sacrifice, commitment and lots of hard work.”
She also added that she didn’t have it easy growing up as a coloured young woman in South Africa.
“I had to be courageous and resilient, knowing that my struggle was not the end but the beginning of something wonderful.
“I want young people to know that people may discourage you, even you may be your own loudest critic and you may stop yourself before you even try. But you have what it takes inside of you to achieve your goals and dreams,” Hendricks said.