Medic also has a deft hand for beauty as make-up artist

Katlego Lekalakala shows the style that has won her clients as a make-up artist./ Harmonix Phiri.
Katlego Lekalakala shows the style that has won her clients as a make-up artist./ Harmonix Phiri.

Katlego Lekalakala not only makes people feel better as a medical doctor but she also makes them feel beautiful on the most important days of their lives.

The 25-year-old from Pretoria took her medical oath on Saturday, with four distinctions to her name, after working for years as a highly sought-after make-up artist.

Lekalakala said she decided to turn to the profession after her family started to struggle financially while she was in medical school.

"I didn't see myself nor did I aspire to be a make-up artist until my third year in varsity, when my family started struggling financially and I had to start making means to fund a lot of my expenses. Make-up artistry became the answer to my financial struggles, only to later find out that I'd love it as much as I do and I would be as good as I've become," she said.

Lekalakala, who studied at the University of Pretoria, said her biggest challenge was managing her time between studies and her make-up gigs.

"It was difficult to prioritise one over the other; having to cancel appointments to ensure I am not missing out on school or sacrificing a lecture or hospital time to ensure I can work on a big campaign or a face I've always wanted to work on. Luckily, I was blessed to have my classmates because they were always willing to back me up so I never got into trouble," she said.

Lekalakala said she enjoyed both careers because they allow her to work with people.

"Medicine has taught me a lot about empathy, it has taught me how to communicate better, it has taught me patience and in a weird way it has taught me love. Make-up has revealed to me that I am more powerful than what I believe, it has worked so much on my self-esteem and confidence.

"It has exposed me to people I never thought I would know, it has put me in the middle of conversations that have truly broadened my perspective. And with both I love that the learning doesn't stop, both fields expect you to be a student for life," she said.

The young doctor said she has had people stereotype her because they did not know she was in fact in medical school.

"I've realised that people's perception of you is greatly impacted by the perception they have of themselves.

"Make-up is a lot more hard work than what people think it is. It's many gruelling hours of standing on your feet, hours of not eating, applying yourself and ensuring you have given this person who has trusted you with a big event in their life an experience worth the money they have paid."

Asked about which career she will ultimately choose, Lekalakala said she was still waiting for a clue.

"I honestly don't have a plan, I have enjoyed the haphazard route my life has taken. I've had no disappointments because I've had no expectations.

"It's just been a whirlwind of fun, heartache, long hours of work and all of that for me to learn as much as I have and to be better as a person.

"I just know both careers are going to do more for me than what I can imagine now - and that is what is exciting for me. I know I am going to be a big deal." Lekalakala will graduate in April.

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