I Like A Good Challenge: Natasha Kameeta

29 Jan 2017 17:00pm
By Isabel Bento

ONGWEDIVA, 29 JAN (NAMPA) – ‘Natasha, the ‘special one’ of Da-Palm’ read the headline in a local newspaper after she was named best performer in the Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate Ordinary Level examinations in 2011.
“I was totally awestruck because even though I knew I studied hard, I never expected to be the best performer in the entire country,” Natasha Penandino Kameeta laughs as she looks back at that special time in her life.
You would think obtaining 45 points in her final examinations and having her name all over the local newspapers would have gone to the former Da-Palm Senior Secondary School learner’s head. And yet it seems to have only driven her to work harder.
Now in the last year of her six-year Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBChB) at the University of Namibia’s School of Medicine, Natasha shows no signs of letting up.
Speaking to Nampa recently, the young woman from Otjimbingwe seems to have adjusted well to life after school - and the freedom that comes with it.
Many young people, after excelling in the more rigid, closely supervised environment of school struggle to cope once faced with this freedom.
Leaving her family behind was not easy and Natasha says her first year at university was challenging, especially as she had to adapt to a whole new environment and make new friends.
This was especially difficult for her as she was very shy.
“But making it to the big city and studying towards this degree was a dream come true for me as I have always wanted to serve humanity,” she said.
Her course is also demanding.
“It has its ups and downs, not forgetting that it’s time consuming. But it is doable and I am managing because I like a good challenge,” she said.
The distractions that come with university life is something some students would struggle with, but Natasha said her secret is simple – she sets goals for herself, plans and prioritises to keep focused, and prays.
Getting to where she is today was not easy.
Growing up in an extended family, there was no money for transport from her home at the village of Vaalpos to Otjimbingwe more than 20 kilometres away. She would often have to use a donkey cart to get to school.
Born on 13 April 1993, the future doctor has two younger brothers. She was raised by her grandmother whom she holds in high regard and describes as “a very phenomenal woman”.
The 23-year-old said one of the main factors that led to her pursuing this career is the state of the local health system.
“My village to be precise is also lacking doctors and I just want to give back to the place that groomed me into the person that I am today. I want to make a positive impact,” she said.
With her outstanding results, the world was her oyster and Natasha said the best option for her was to further her studies in Namibia, with financial assistance from the Social Security Commission.
It was not about where she chose to study, but what she would be gaining, she said.
“I also just thought it would be better to start off at home, have a solid foundation on disease patterns in my own country, then have an idea of which speciality to choose,” she said.
She is currently busy with her practicals at the Katutura Intermediate Hospital, during which she is polishing her skills and tying up the theoretical and practical aspects of the entire course.
“This is to prepare us for our internship before we can actually start practicing. It’s an exhilarating experience,” she said.
When she has some free time, Natasha reads inspirational books and watches movies.
Although she described herself as a loner and said she prefers her own company at times, she occasionally spends time with her friends.
A classmate and acquaintance, Selma Shipunda, described her as humble and said she always learns something from her.
“She is a woman of very few words, however she always makes her opinions known when needed,” Shipunda said.
Asked if she has any advice for young men and women who are still transitioning from Grade 12 to tertiary education, the aspiring doctor said they should set targets and objectives for themselves and ensure that they do not get distracted from their studies.
“It is not easy to avoid pressure from peers, especially when one is far from home, but once you set rules for yourself, you will easily overcome such obstacles. Make the right choice and remember, no goal is ever too ambitious,” she said.