A NEW doctor who graduated at Stellenbosch University yesterday had a particular reason to thank the family who were there to cheer his achievement.
When he was in Grade 11, Port Elizabeth schoolboy Luthando Vazi was taken in by his teacher Helen Peremore, who recognised his potential. He had been raised by his alcoholic father after his mother died when he was young. “No one ever stood up for me,” he said. He left his father’s home at 14 to live with his grandmother, but she also died.
Vazi moved back in with his father and his new wife, who both abused him physically. “I got a beating every night. It really broke me,” he said. He also began experimenting with alcohol and drugs, but Peremore, his Afrikaans teacher at Port Elizabeth’s David Livingstone High School, took him in.
Peremore said yesterday that Vazi, now 26, had become like her own child – she has four children of her own, aged between 17 and 28. “He was diligent and neat. He spoke all languages fluently. He told me he wanted to be a doctor and I said: ‘Don’t stop.
Pursue your dream.’ ” Vazi said the Peremore family “changed my compass of what family should be”. Va z i ’s matric results were captured inaccurately, but he enrolled in Stellenbosch’s Sci- MathUS class, an intensive, holistic, year-long university preparation programme.
Programme marketing manager Anneke Müller said: “The grades of students [from] the programme in the past 15 years have improved by 15 percentage points in the core subjects [mathematics and physical science].” She said 154 students from the programme had earned a bachelor’s degree, 46 a second qualification, 12 a master’s degree, and two earned PhD degrees last year.