Master of Science Graduate gets her Study Diet Right in Every Respect
A desire to make a significant difference to peoples’ lives is what motivated Ms Laurencia Govender to pursue Dietetics for her degree.
The study paid excellent dividends when Govender graduated summa cum laude with a Master of Science degree in Dietetics from the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.
‘Even though I didn’t realise what I was getting myself into when I chose dietetics, given a second chance I wouldn’t change that for anything,’ she said.
Being passionate about her field of study and knowing that she would be making a difference to peoples lives spurred her on to achieve astounding results.
Govender’s dissertation was titled: “Nutritional Composition and Acceptance of a Complementary Food Made with Provitamin A-Biofortified Maize”.
Micronutrient malnutrition has been identified as a serious health problem globally and is on the rise in South Africa. Rural infants are the most affected, as their diets often lack micronutrients. Food fortification, vitamin A supplementation and dietary diversity are the strategies that have been employed in South Africa to alleviate the problem, however these strategies have not been effective for various reasons.
With Biofortification an emerging complementary strategy, her research investigated the acceptance of provitamin A-biofortified maize by Black African caregivers living in the Umgungundlovu area as well as the nutritional composition of the provitamin A-biofortified maize.
Govender’s role model was her grandmother. ‘When she was still alive nothing stopped her from achieving her goals. With little formal education she was able to run her own successful business and she taught me never to give up and to put my all into whatever I do.’
Doing her masters degree part-time was no walk in the park. ‘Working full time was challenging as I needed to study flat out in the evenings. I had many down days but was very lucky to have three amazing supervisors-Dr Kirthee Pillay, Dr M Siwela and Professor John Derera – as well as friends and family who encouraged, motivated and supported me throughout my degree.’
Govender, who is currently working at Edendale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg as a Clinical Dietician, has a special interest in surgery and ICU nutrition and would like one day to specialise in that field. ‘For now I want to get all the clinical experience I can from working at a hospital and in the future I would like to further my studies and possibly complete my PHD,’ she said.
- Swasti Maney