Every year, one of Belgium’s largest universities, KU Leuven, awards a R2 million bursary to exceptional students from developing countries. Of the large numbers of applications received from South African students, only one is chosen, the chosen one being Stellenbosch University’s Lynn Hendricks.
Lynn is a research psychologist who works at Stellenbosch University’s Department of Global Health (at the Centre for Evidence Based Health Care). She will be working on her PhD for the next four years, but as part of the scholarship, she will have to spend half of every year in the freezing temperatures of Belgium at KU Leuven (the weather currently averages below 10 degrees Celsius). She will however spend the rest of each year studying and working at Stellenbosch and the PhD itself will be jointly awarded by KU Leuven and Stellenbosch.
The scholarship, which forms part of KU Leuven’s ‘Global Minds’ programme, aims to contribute to the development of exceptional minds in developing countries and Lynn has indeed proven herself to be an exceptional ‘Global Mind’.
It took her many years, degrees and universities to get to where she is. In 2004, she completed her Psychology Bachelor of Science degree at the Freed-Hardeman University in the US and in 2009, a Masters of Arts degree through both the University of the Western Cape and the University of Oslo in Norway. Seven years later in 2016, she registered for a Masters of Science degree in Clinical Epidemiology at Stellenbosch University and completed it in 2017. The following year she decided to apply for her doctorate.
During this time, she worked as a Junior Researcher, Part-Time Lecturer, Research Consultant, and Head of Research. She is also the owner of Research Ambition, a small consultancy that focuses on, well, research.
The scholarship was awarded to her because of her excellent research proposal. She will be looking at the experiences of young people that were born with HIV and what is needed for them to thrive. She will also be interrogating the use of arts-based research as a methodology and research-film as a dissemination outcome.
Besides her excellent proposal, it also helped that she has published articles in several academic journals. These publications include PLoS ONE, the South African Journal of Psychology, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Gender and Development and the Journal of Psychology in Africa
Of the scholarship, Lynn says that she feels “really blessed” and confesses that when she heard that she had gotten it, she was “ecstatic!” “I get to spend every working moment on research I’m passionate about, with people I look up to and in a subject area I love,” says Lynn. As a result of the scholarship, she has already made connections with other researchers in Belgium, Australia and the United Kingdom and even got an invitation to present on qualitative systematic reviews in Poland.
Although she is currently away from home, she still keeps contact with her family through Skype. She says that when she returns home, she’ll be “a new person, revived, recharged and ready to teach!”