Waterford Kamhlaba United World College Southern Africa - (WKUWCSA)

Dr. Ndumiso Dlamini (Swaziland, WK 04-08)

The idea of owing my own business has always been dear to me. Growing up, I was surrounded by business owners and had first-hand experience on how businesses are run. The independence of thought with which you can make ideas manifest in a way that you want them to, has always appealed to me. This fascination, coupled with my desire to work independently, is what led to the founding of The Smile Clinic. The Smile Clinic is a highly specialized and well capacitated dental clinic that focusses mainly on family and cosmetic dentistry. Dental services are notoriously expensive, but currently The Smile Clinic is the most affordable in comparison to other service providers locally. Our aim is to offer a premium product at affordable rates and still make a reasonable profit whilst at it. We are able to offer such a service owing to the fact that the clinic is located within a medical centre, which houses a medical doctor, physiotherapist, pharmacy, on site radiology, a laboratory and pharmacy-hence we enjoy economies of scale. All these different fields are synchronized to deliver a good service to each client.

Studying at Waterford and being taught by people from different racial, social and economic backgrounds really opened up my perspective in life. I got to realize that despite all we have and all we are, at an elemental level we are essentially the same; we all bleed. So that realization for me was very profound as it changed the way I interact and treat people, something which I carried with me throughout my schooling years and working life. Having a Kamhlaba pedigree shows, even to the untrained eye. Having had the opportunity to be enrolled for an IB diploma, the community service component of it is what I would say led me to the journey I’m currently on. It was during the “Vision and Hearing” Community Service that together with a fellow friend, Mr. Ricardo Kabila, I got the opportunity to work with primary school pupils doing vision and hearing screening exercises. I really enjoyed these sessions as I could play “Dr”, something I cherished dearly. It wasn’t until I got the rare opportunity to do a screening exercise on a member of staff, Mr. Peter Shields, who also happened to be my mathematics teacher, that I decided to give this “Dr” thing more thought. After the session, while I was explaining the audiology results to him, he commented that he “thinks I would make a good Doctor”, a statement he made candidly and yet it was significant to my young, impressionable mind. A fire was ignited in me to become a Doctor. All these lessons and traits that I got from my stay at Waterford led to my career choice, and subsequent progression to dental private practice. I personally opted to shy away from a very comfortable and lucrative government job offer simply because I prefer working independently and am self-motivated. With age on my side, my future prospects are not tied to government policies but to my own hard work and dedication to my business. To me, being the master of your destiny and working on your own business is more important than being comfortable in any job. Comfort has the tendency of stunting creative thinking, with the unenviable, and inevitable, result of dormancy in one’s life.

Waterford will always be dear and special to me. My experiences and lessons learnt there will always be cherished. I won’t forget the bench right outside the library, which was the meeting place for the “cool” day students at the time. This was where the latest news was discussed and where updates on the latest assignments due were addressed. And of course, it was a vantage point for viewing all the talent the school had. Being very competitive by nature, watching the school’s basketball team play local schools was always a welcome and pleasant experience. Phoenix seldom lost! The boys were mercurial in their display of basketball prowess on the court. There is nothing better than a sure victory to boost one’s morale. My above average academic talents, my fit and integration into the Waterford “social circles” was seamless. It was the first school I had been to where smart students were welcomed and embraced by other students. I will never forget how I became an overnight “star” after I had done very well in the form 3 mathematics placement tests. And lastly, who could ever forget Babe Lawrence, our beloved school bus driver. The man commanded respect and exuded a great sense of confidence. Many day scholars have been made to watch the backside of the school bus as he slowly drove off while watching you dashing for the bus in his rear view mirror. The man was impressive with his commitment to punctuality. What made him so admirable was his consistency in the way he treated students.

Healthcare is a very exciting field to be in. With each day that passes, new discoveries are being made that improve people’s lives. To be in healthcare provides you with a rare opportunity to touch and be in control of people’s lives, literally. It comes with a great sense of responsibility, and being empathetic does help too. Clients literally entrust you with managing their health, and by extension their lives. That’s an incredible and humbling empowering gesture.

I love working with people and helping where I can, hence my career choice. A person’s smile is their greatest asset. And a big component of that smile is teeth. So in essence I’m responsible for people’s smiles, one tooth at a time. The significance of that is not realized until a front tooth goes missing. I’m an impatient person with a mild form of OCD, so dentistry was a perfect fit for me. This is because dentistry is a field that offers instant solutions to people’s dental issues. You literally leave the clinic feeling and looking much better. I love that the job gives you the opportunity to see the expression on people’s faces once they have seen the work done on them. It is priceless.

Dentistry is essentially a culmination of being a doctor, engineer and artist. If you are that unique student doing higher mathematics, chemistry and art, then you would make the perfect dentist. Otherwise it’s a very lucrative and exciting field to be in, which requires a lot of hard work and dedication. The same applies for everything in this life. If you dream of it, have a solid action plan on how to achieve it, surround yourself with people who challenge and motivate you, and are more than willing to put in the late nights and have a (severely) interrupted social life, then it’s all possible.

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