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Former matric top achiever chose to study medicine to make a difference

Published Jan 21, 2022

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Kingsmead College alumna Alexa Lipchin took the decision to study medicine as a result of her desire to help people. She matriculated in 2019 and started studying during the first wave of Covid-19.

Despite some difficulties, she had a generally positive experience. It was an adjustment to be responsible for your own output as opposed to the relatively scheduled existence of a college environment, she says. However, she great support within her chosen field among her fellow students and the university.

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Lipchin distinguished herself with an outstanding 10 distinctions in the IEB Matric results in 2019.

Her distinctions are in Afrikaans (first language), English (home language) French (second language), geography, life orientation, life sciences, maths, physical sciences, music (TCL Practical 7) and the advanced programme in maths.

She describes her success as an accumulation of all the hard work she put into her subjects throughout her time at school.

At the time, with regard to her future plans, she expressed a desire to study medicine.

“What attracted me to the idea was an enjoyment of the sciences, and after a job shadow at Baragwanath Academic Hospital during Grade 11, I was inspired by what I saw in terms of helping people in any small way. I really want to do something like that with my life."

She didn’t take a gap year, but plunged straight into first year medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand.

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Lipchin says it is going really well and she’s enjoying it. She’s not sure yet what she will choose to specialise in, “but perhaps something paediatric-related”.

In comparison to college, she found university quite an adjustment, particularly with regards to online learning. She observes that it is not as controlled an environment, and that it’s up to her to keep pace with work assignments, but previous nurturing and experience has prepared her to “manage this opportunity”.

Asked about her energy levels, Lipchin says that towards the end of the year she was finding it difficult to keep the momentum going. To deal with this, she set herself small goals and made sure she met them. She says she was lucky enough to have friends to speak to within her chosen field, as being at home for long periods can become lonely. Her first year friends “helped immensely in combating any sense of isolation”. In exchanging views, she says you realise you are not alone and have invaluable support.

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In terms of support from the university, Lipchin says much is offered. Students are provided with details of platforms and listings of places to reach out to if they feel they need support. She says she is “privileged and fortunate” to have a solid group of friends supporting her during her tenure.

She adds that “the lecturers have been really great in this regard”.

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