School of Life Sciences

Ms Rabia Khan receives the School of Life Sciences Genetics Award from Professor Hafizah Chenia.

Balance is Key for Top Achiever

Ms Rabia Khan graduated summa cum laude with a BSc degree majoring in Biochemistry and Genetics during the recent UKZN Autumn Graduation Ceremonies.

She also received the School of Life Sciences Award as the top-third year Genetics student on the Westville Campus for 2023.

She is currently pursuing her Honours degree in Biochemistry under the mentorship of Professor Shahidul Islam. Her honours research project focuses on gathering data on how adding different types of milks and sweeteners to a regular cup of coffee affects its anti-diabetic and antioxidant potential. Such information can be used to make lifestyle choices in relation to the management of Type 2 Diabetes and obesity.

‘Surprisingly, I didn’t enjoy Chemistry at school but have always been passionate about biology and holistic living,’ said Khan. ‘I chose to further my studies in Biochemistry owing to its versatile nature in terms of being applied environmentally, medically and industrially. I believe this will allow for more room and opportunities to select from when it comes to applying for a job, as well as establishing a foundational basis to build further knowledge.’

Khan says while she prefers short-term, realistic goals, she hopes to be able to enter the job market successfully once her honours degree is complete. Alternatively, she plans to progress to master’s studies.

‘I intend to seize opportunities as they come and build myself in all aspects of life, both in terms of a career and as a human. I do hope to extend my knowledge of applying science to everyday life, in all facets, and eventually to move away from city life and perhaps live “off the grid”,’ she said.

She attributed her success to the blessings and mercy of Almighty Allah; as well as to her support structure encompassing her parents, siblings, brothers-in law, family, friends, past high school teachers and her best friend.

‘My advice to students is simple: balance leads to unexpected results,’ she said.  ‘It is my utmost belief that success goes beyond marks, certificates and monetary value. Success is balance – taking the time to catch up with the latest episode, spending time with someone who may be gone tomorrow, and working enough academically to understand and comprehend what you’re learning and how could you apply it in your daily life.’

Islam described Khan as an ‘exceptionally talented student, who always tries to show her exceptionality and innovations in every single aspect of her academic practice’. ‘I am proud to have her in my lab as a BSc Honours project student,’ she added.

Words: Sally Frost

Photograph:  Hesper Cele