Katherine Oyieke, 36

Paediatric Neurologist

University of Cape Town

For the four years, Dr Katherine has chosen to work with children, she has been the youngest paediatric neurologist in the continent.

Good grades and having two members of her family in the medical field nudged her to pursue medicine at the University of Nairobi. She did her Master’s at Aga Khan University and her fellowship in Paediatric Neurology at the University of Cape Town. She now teaches and runs a paediatric neurology fellowship programme at the institution.

She grew up watching women pushing boundaries in her family. Her mother was the youngest PhD holder in the country in the 80s. Her grandmother was widowed early in life and went on to raise her family alone while expanding her business regionally. These two were her foremost role models growing up.

“I chose paediatrics neurology because children are the foundation of humanity. If we get it right at the foundation, we score greatly at getting right in the latter days,” she says.

"Katherine grew up watching women pushing boundaries in her family."

Working with children requires more than her professional skills. She has learned to be patient, playful, and gentle to her little clients.

Has she encountered failure, and what has it taught her? “I consider it a failure when I can’t connect with children. When I am unable to alleviate a patient’s suffering. I know as doctors, we are facilitators of the healing process and we shouldn’t take it personally when a procedure or a treatment doesn’t work but at the end of the day, being at the centre of the process puts some responsibility on your shoulders.”

Her biggest career moment is when she was recognised as the best student in her fellowship training at the University of Cape Town. “It is a rare recognition. That was a rubber stamp and a sign of approval that I was meant to do this.”

Ndugu Abisai