Aspirant KZN doctor shortlisted for $100,000 global student prize

Suthentira Govender Senior reporter
Iziphozonke Mlambo, from Newcastle, KZN, is in the running for a $100,000 Global Student Prize.
Iziphozonke Mlambo, from Newcastle, KZN, is in the running for a $100,000 Global Student Prize.
Image: Supplied

A KwaZulu-Natal youngster who is pursuing his dream of studying medicine in the US is in the running for a $100,000 (R1.7m) Global Student Prize for nurturing young scientists.

Iziphozonke Mlambo, 19, from Newcastle, who is studying human biology at Biola University in California, was selected from almost 7,000 nominations and applications from 150 countries to make the Top 50 shortlist.

The Varkey Foundation, which is a global charity focused on improving standards of education for underprivileged children, partnered with to launch the annual Global Student Prize last year, a sister award to its $1m (R17m) Global Teacher Prize.

The annual $100,000 award is given to an exceptional student who has made a real impact on learning, the lives of their peers and on society.

Students are assessed on their academic achievement, impact on their peers, how they make a difference in their community and beyond, how they overcome the odds to achieve, how they demonstrate creativity and innovation and how they operate as global citizens.

The prize is open to all students who are enrolled in an academic institution or training and skills programme.

Mlambo, who matriculated at Newcastle High, is pursuing a human biology degree with the aim of specialising as a gastroenterologist.

According to his profile on the Global Student Prize portal, Mlambo suffered with a weak immune system as a child and was often in and out of hospital. This inspired him to pursue medicine after seeing doctors working on the front line.

Raised with seven other dependants by his physically challenged uncle after his parents passed away, Mlambo sometimes lacked transport money to attend school but excelled academically.

His pursuit to uplift disadvantaged children saw him cofound Science Buddies, a non-profit organisation that develops youth science talent.

Science Buddies focuses on pupils from higher primary to high school, nurturing young scientists by providing them with the opportunity to participate in global science fairs and competitions while giving them access to personal professional mentors who assist them to develop their innovative ideas and solutions.

Science Buddies has reached more than 100 pupils from different backgrounds, connected them to more than 50 mentors, and partnered with more than 15 science fairs, societies and competitions worldwide. It is focused on a rural development project which targets science talent from rural  poorer areas, working closely with government and schools to establish science centres and laboratories.

Mlambo also launched The Rising Stars Foundation non-profit organisation, which focuses on developing youth and is focusing on students with university and bursary applications.

He earned a full scholarship to Biola University after he was selected as one of 300 top young scientists in the Global Regeneron Science talent competition in 2020.

At Biola University, Mlambo is an executive member of the African Students Association, a club that brings together students who affiliate with the continent. He formed a coalition with the campus Black Student Association, building a bridge between the two communities.

Dan Rosensweig, CEO of Chegg, said: “Since its launch last year, the Global Student Prize has given incredible 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 their voices heard. We need to harness their dreams, insights and creativity to tackle the daunting and urgent challenges facing our world.

“Our finalists this year have made a huge impact in areas from the environment to equality and justice, from health and wellbeing to education and skills, from youth empowerment to ending poverty.”

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, said Mlambo’s story “is a testament to the crucial role education plays in building a better tomorrow for us all”.

“It is the key to solving humanity’s greatest challenges, from war and conflict to climate change to growing inequality.”

Last year’s winner was Jeremiah Thoronka, a 21-year-old student from Sierra Leone who launched a start-up called Optim Energy that transforms vibrations from vehicles and pedestrian footfall on roads into an electric current.

The top 10 finalists for the Global Student Prize are expected to be announced in August. The winner, announced later in the year, will be chosen from the top 10 finalists by the Global Student Prize Academy.


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