Shannon Gets Medical Degree and Why Hope Never Dies

When people speak of Wesbank in Cape Town, the sentiment is always the same. It is a place where hope goes to die and the only options available is inescapable poverty and gangsterism.  Shannon Simonse disagrees.

Shannon recently graduated with a medical degree from Stellenbosch University and says that she never felt that Wesbank held her back. Now, we should not romanticize the problems that the people from Wesbank face. Despite being able to overcome the problems in Wesbank, Shannon was never immune to it. Just like everyone else in Wesbank, she was deeply affected by the cycle of poverty and violence.

Her family struggled financially and it was always clear to her that she did not have as much as her classmates. It was in high school that she decided that she would not let this affect her self-esteem. Her guiding philosophy was that she would always move forward and never backward. This philosophy helped her to excel at school which in turn helped her get a bursary to study medicine.

In her third year of study, Shannon’s brother was shot 6 times when gangsters opened fire on a group of school kids. He survived but this was a deeply traumatic event and it is understandable that she does not like to think about it. As always, she did not allow these past traumatic events hold her back and she continued to move forward.

Shannon had dreamt of becoming a doctor since she was little, but while in grade 11, something happened that would seal her fate. Her parents were involved in a car accident, and seeing them covered in blood, there was nothing that she could do to help them. She says that she never wanted to feel that helpless again and decided there and then that she would become a doctor.

Shannon is very proud of her achievements but she is not someone who likes to brag. Her family says that she is a very humble person who gets a bit shy when people make a fuss over her achievements. This fits in perfectly with her philosophy of moving forward. People who constantly move forward do not sit around, patting themselves on the back. They just keep on working hard, moving forward, and keep on achieving without expecting any praise.

Shannon says that the young people have to understand that their circumstances are not an excuse to not realize their dreams. “You cannot blame the place that you come from,” says Shannon. Her parents, Ernstina and Randall, agree. They say that they are very proud of her and they hope that Shannon’s story will inspire the youth of Wesbank.

She is currently working at the Uitenhage Provincial Hospital in the Eastern Cape but she has not decided in which medical field she will be specializing. She says that she wants to learn as much as she can before she decides on her area of specialization.

A place like Wesbank has too many social ills and this cannot be wished away. Gangsterism, crime and poverty are deeply rooted problems but as Dr Shannon Simonse proves, hope never dies. It lives deep down inside of everyone, waiting to be set free.

Source: (edited from an article by Eldridge Jason)

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