Gagasi FM Shero 2022 Award for UKZN Veterinarian
Dr Nqobile Jaca, Head of the Biomedical Resource Unit at UKZN, was recently honoured with a Gagasi FM Shero award for Science and Technology.
The radio station introduced the awards to celebrate extraordinary KwaZulu-Natal women who push boundaries and excel in their different professions.
Jaca, a qualified veterinarian, joined UKZN in 2019 after working as a poultry veterinarian at Ceva Animal Health in Midrand. Having matriculated from Ridge Park College in Durban, she knew from a very young age that this was a career she wanted to pursue due to her love for animals. ‘I grew up in Ntuzuma, a township in Durban. I was raised by a single mother and had no exposure to the veterinary field when growing up, but I had this love for animals in a way that was strange for a girl from the township. If my neighbour’s cat was giving birth, I would be under their bed pulling out kittens and keeping them dry in a bid to keep them alive with the little we had. Veterinary Science for me was more of a calling than anything because until Grade 10, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a veterinarian.’
Gagasi FM described Jaca as a leader in her field who is well acquainted with the challenges faced by women as they strive for personal and professional advancement in this province.
Upon hearing that she had won the award in the Science and Technology sector, she said, ‘The awards are all about recognising women doing exceptional things in their communities and occupying space in different professions. I won the science and technology award which serves to honour me as a Black female veterinarian in the laboratory animal sciences. This award made me realise that I am seen and the work and space that I occupy matter and I hope this serves as a reminder for all young Black girls that their dreams are valid and that nothing is impossible if they believe and put in the work.’
When asked about her future, Jaca said, ‘I hope to take our animal research unit to greater heights - world-class standards and for it to offer a wide range of research models and world-class facilities. I would also like to go into veterinary consultation, especially in the poultry space at some stage.’
Words: MaryAnn Francis