Dr Gloria Mothapo joined the Fees Must Fall Movement when she was a member of the student representative council at the University of Witwatersrand. This was another movement — after the 1976 student uprising — that shook the higher education system across the country and forced leaders to listen and take notice of the plight of poor students.
She became a student activist because she hates injustice and inequality.
Some of the words she lives by are: “It’s important to fight for change in the very space you exist in. That’s how you change the world.”
In 2017, Mothapo became the youngest board member at Chris Hani Academic Hospital, the largest hospital in Africa. She counts this as one of the proudest moments in her career and an indication that it is time for young professionals to be at the forefront of healthcare management.
Today, Mothapo finds herself at the frontline of another battle: the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is her dedication to her work, which she says is her calling, that means she’s prepared to risk her own life to save the lives of others.
From a young age, Mothapo knew that she wanted to be a medical doctor. She works in the emergency medicine department at Steve Biko Academic Hospital; she is the first point of contact with patients. She says there is always an uncertainty about the kind of patient she is going to treat at any given time, but she has established that she thrives on not knowing what awaits her.
“There is a beauty in seeing a patient move from almost losing their lives, to walking out of the hospital intact a few weeks or months down the line. That’s what gets me up every morning,” she says.