Mikyle David of Pietermaritzburg will graduate on Wednesday with a Master’s degree in Medical Sciences from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: Rogan Ward
Mikyle David of Pietermaritzburg will graduate on Wednesday with a Master’s degree in Medical Sciences from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: Rogan Ward

UKZN student obtains Masters degree with flying colours

By Vernon Mchunu Time of article published May 25, 2021

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Despite the challenges in his life, Mikyle David places no limits on what he can achieve.

The Pietermaritzburg resident will graduate on Wednesday with a Master’s degree in Medical Sciences summa cum laude from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

David said his journey had not been easy. He was diagnosed with a deformation of the tibula and fibula bones 23 years ago. He was also born with a cleft hand – without two fingers on his right hand.

Due to the deformities with the bones in his legs, his parents were faced with the choice of amputating both his legs or placing him in a wheelchair for life.

He said his parents chose amputation which he was grateful for as it gave him the chance to walk, albeit with the use of two prosthetic limbs.

“Despite my condition presenting a monumental challenge, I was dedicated, worked hard and with the help of my parents, persevered to overcome it. School came with its own adversity and challenges, as educators and students alike saw me as ’different’, while this was ’normal’ for me,” he said.

“There was something that my mother once said to encourage me – ‘God may have taken away your legs but he gave you a big brain instead’. These words have stuck with me to this day. I used my so-called ‘big brain’ to excel academically in school and at university,” said David.

During his studies, David, in his modified car, made the daily journey from Pietermaritzburg to UKZN’s Medical School in Durban and once at the university had to walk up two flights of stairs to get to the laboratory.

His supervisor, Professor Anita Naicker, describes him as an exceptional student.

“He is dedicated and diligent, never complains and does everything possible to keep up with the class. He works twice as hard as the average student and for his efforts, he has graduated a year ahead of time (the Masters programme is normally completed over two years).

In addition, his research paper has been accepted by an international journal – Archives of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (https://link.springer.com/) .

“It’s also impressive that he managed all this in the year of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Naicker.

In a statement, the university said that as part of his research work, David had investigated the concentration of adipsin and C9 in HIV-associated preeclampsia (PE).

“The study identified a strong correlation between the up-regulation of adipsin and PE and found that adipsin is a promising biomarker as a diagnostic tool for PE. PE is a pregnancy-related hypertensive disorder that usually occurs after 20 weeks of gestation. It is a significant public health threat in both developed and developing countries that contributes to maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality,” UKZN said.

David has since registered for a PhD to continue his research on preeclampsia and said he was keen to include aspects related to Covid-19 in his work.

Naicker had cautioned against this due to the risk involved but David insisted he was not afraid and wanted to work in this area to help make a difference.

“This may sound very cliché but it’s true – life can be tough at times and there will always be obstacles in your way, but good old-fashioned hard work and determination are key,” said David.

Mikyle David of Pietermaritzburg will graduate on Wednesday with a Master’s degree in Medical Sciences from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: Rogan Ward
Pietermaritzburg resident Mikyle David will graduate on Wednesday with a Master’s degree in Medical Sciences from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: Rogan Ward

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