Faheem's story: One of hope and Resilience

Updated: May 24

Faheem Habib is a current third year medical student at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), in Johannesburg. It was during his high school years that Faheem was introduced to Biology - his curiosity for understanding the anatomy and physiology of the human body was unearthed and his passion and desire to study medicine began. Unfortunately, he was not accepted into medicine straight from high school, as his matric marks were woefully short of amazing in comparison to other applicants’ marks. However, he was not ready to give up on his dream of becoming a doctor just yet. He pursued a degree in BSc Human Physiology at the University of Pretoria (UP) in 2016, with the hopes of improving his marks and applying for medicine again.

After the first six months of his BSc degree, Faheem applied for the mid-year intake into medicine at UP and then again at the end of his first year. His applications were deemed unsuccessful both times, which severely lowered his confidence and made him doubt himself as well as his capabilities. Although he was rejected time and time again, he was determined to prove to himself that rejection would not stop him from achieving what he had set out to achieve. Faheem started excelling academically from the second year of his BSc degree in 2017, scoring distinctions in every single module. In the third and final year of his BSc degree in 2018, he applied for medicine at UP again. However, he also applied to study Honours in Pharmacology at UP, as a back-up plan. Sadly, both of his applications were unsuccessful.

In 2018, Faheem wrote the Wits Additional Placement Test (WAPT), which is a test that allows graduates (persons in possession of a degree or qualification) to enter third year medicine at Wits. Due to all the academic pressure he had put on himself to excel during his final year studies at UP, Faheem ended up failing the WAPT as he had not dedicated as much time to studying for the test as he would’ve liked to. By this time, Faheem’s spirit was absolutely shattered – he had been rejected for medicine countless of times and now, even his back-up plan had failed him. As a result, he was forced to take a “gap year” in 2019. Although forced into taking a gap year, he did not sit idle. He began studying and preparing for the WAPT in February of 2019, as he was determined to rewrite and pass the WAPT that year. In June of that year, Faheem landed a part-time job and managed to balance working and studying for the WAPT. He displayed phenomenal resilience and made tremendous sacrifices throughout 2019, and to his delightful surprise, managed to pass the WAPT. Even though he had passed the test, his application to study medicine at Wits was still unsuccessful, as his marks were still not as good as the marks of other applicants. While he was truly devastated, Faheem decided that it was time he put his dream of studying medicine to rest as it seemed it would never become a reality for him. In an attempt to, move on with his life, he applied to study Honours in Pharmacology at Wits and was

accepted. He was overcome with joy that he had finally been accepted and not for just anything, but for pharmacology, a subject which he thoroughly enjoys and has a passion for.

Not only did Faheem go on to complete his Honours in Pharmacology at Wits in 2020, but also managed to rank first in his class with an average of 91%. What’s more is that, he was able to achieve this while working part-time. In his relentless pursuit of seeking a career as a medical doctor, he decided to apply for medicine at Wits, one last time. He was already used to rejection by now but luckily for him, this time turned out to be much different. On the 22nd of December 2020, Faheem was informed that his application to study medicine at Wits was successful, and that he would be starting third year medicine at Wits in 2021. He was truly speechless and filled with overwhelming amounts of gratefulness, as he could not believe that something, he thought would only ever stay a dream for him, had now become a reality.

Faheem says that if he could go back and give his younger self some advice, he would tell himself that everything happens for a reason and that even though we plan, God plans better. He believes that the path he had to take and the obstacles he had to overcome, were all part of God’s plan for him and looking back at it now, he wouldn’t have it any other way.

It was crucial for him to walk down the path he did, as he still had many valuable life lessons to learn. This path taught him a lot and helped him mature a lot. He firmly believes that this path ultimately prepared him for his new journey as a medical student and encourages others to never give up on their dreams, despite the odds. In Faheem’s words, “prayer and consistency" are key, you cannot achieve something without having faith and without working hard for it!”

The Science Experiment would like to thank Faheem Habib for sharing his story with us, we hope that you have all been inspired to never give up on your dreams. It may take you longer than you expected, but Faheem is proof that with consistent hardwork, passion and resilience - you can achieve almost anything.

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