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I Am UWC: Top Student Gemma Froon

I Am UWC: Top Student Gemma Froon

Gemma Lynne Froon is a young adult who has a deep interest in caring for others, with her greatest interest being maternity - which is why it was so natural for her to do her BNur at the University of the Western Cape.

And following her passion paid off: she recently graduated Summa Cum Laude, was honoured as Top 4th Year Student at this year’s Community and Health Sciences Dean’s Merit Awards, and was just named Best Final Year Student at UWC’s inaugural Academic Awards 2017.

She’s currently doing her community service year at Mowbray Maternity Hospital as a Professional Nurse - and learning to be even better at what she loves. Here’s what she has to say about her awards and experiences at UWC...

How do you feel about the recognition that you have received?

It is such an honour to have received these awards. Honestly, I knew I had done well - but with a bunch of young adults as dedicated and focused as these here today, receiving the Top Final Year award was a great surprise. I am so glad that I can make my parents so proud. It is like the cherry on top of my university experience!

How did you manage to be so consistent in achieving high marks?

I tried to remain organized and always stuck to my timetable, set myself goals, stayed dedicated and focused, and I really enjoy what I do. Although it was tough at times, I always reminded myself of the end goal - "to become a dynamic RN", as Ms Anchen van der Berg would say.

I think the most important thing to do to stay consistent is to have a great support system. Some would say I was always fully dedicated to my studies - but having a balance between social and religious life, studies and relationships also played a vital role in my success.

So what do you do in your free time?

I enjoy surrounding myself with people, and especially with family. I find pleasure in offering advice and support to those in need - and I’m often approached by family and friends with all kinds of medical enquiries (haha). In my free time I enjoy baking and cooking and recently found myself spending a lot of time with wedding planning.

How challenging were the disruptions occurring on campus for your studies?

I commend the participating students for their determination and fighting for their cause - but I’m a firm believer that violence is not the answer. And the disruptions on campus definitely took a toll on all students, whether it was physically, emotionally or mentally. I think it was particularly frustrating for nursing students, as our promotion depended on the completion of our clinical hours.

I was fortunate enough to not be directly exposed to the campus violence and disruptions, but I remember clearly how burnt out I was during the 2015 protests especially - having our exams postponed multiple times and not having any concrete information or reassurance definitely added to the stress.

How do you feel about leaving university?

If I can compare graduation to anything it would definitely be a rollercoaster of emotions: nervousness and excitement mixed with an overwhelming sense of pride. It not only symbolizes a great milestone, but also emphasizes the great achievement of reaching a big goal. Graduation for me is not the end of the journey, it's more like a fork in the road - equipping you with the basics, but giving you the option of which direction you'd like to pursue.

What are your goals for the year?

I’m using this year as an opportunity to grow as a midwife and professional nurse by building on my knowledge of theory as I apply it to the "real world". I aim to grab every opportunity with both hands to extend my knowledge and experience in this specialized field.  This year has also had some other major milestones for me as well, as I became a Mrs in November - an exciting and wonderful adventure.

Any advice for your fellow students?

My advice would be to follow your dreams! (Cliché, I know.) But if you can dream it, you can do it. There is no such thing as "Impossible" -even the word itself says "I[‘]m-possible". Set yourself goals and go for it, don't procrastinate - you’re just wasting time that you could be using to reach another goal. Most importantly, never stop believing in yourself and your abilities.

So where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?

Well, one of my short term goals (among others of becoming a permanent employee at Mowbray) is to further my studies by doing a MNur (Midwifery and Neonatology). And quite a bit can happen in 10 years - but if all goes as planned, I hope to have my own successful maternity clinic where I can continue to live out my passion: making a difference in the lives of pregnant women and unborn babies.