At just 14 years old, Dr. Nothabo Ncube made a promise at her mother’s graveside that would prove to be the guiding light for her career path. Her mother was tragically killed in a car accident, and it was while saying goodbye to her mother that Nothabo made the promise to her mother that she would “try by all means” and strive to be a doctor. Nothabo doesn’t remember saying those words – in fact it was only many years later when she was now in medical school that she finally had the strength to watch the video of her mother’s funeral and realize just how prophetic her words had been!
But the journey to becoming a doctor was not an easy one. Nothabo and her family moved to Canada in 2006, where they found themselves living in the low-income Regent Park projects of Toronto. As Nothabo describes, prostitution and drug-dealing was a normal part of everyday life in the neighborhood. She could easily have found herself led astray given the circumstances, but she was committed to working hard and getting to university. She graduated top of her high school class, and received a scholarship to attend one of the top universities in Canada for her undergraduate studies.
But it was not smooth sailing once she got there. The pressure of university coupled with family issues led to Nothabo falling into depression. She couldn’t even find the strength to get out of bed most morning, and stopped attending classes. Soon after, the university kicked her out of her program.
It was actually her father who found the letter from the university telling Nothabo that she had been kicked out. He left that letter on her bed, along with a note he wrote telling her how she was capable of so much more. Nothabo sought help, and graduated two years later and was accepted into medical school.
But her dream of becoming a doctor looked like it was about to be dashed when she was unable to get funding for her medical studies. Desperate, she tried all means to find the money, including writing to Oprah Winfrey. She was invited to attend a taping of Oprah’s Lifeclass, where the topic was “You become what you believe”. Oprah didn’t give Nothabo any money, but meeting her gave Nothabo a far greater gift – self-belief.
Nothabo returned to Toronto with renewed zeal to find the money so she could fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor. Soon after, she received significant funding to get her started with her studies through a chance conversation with her hairdresser, who gifted her $10,000!
Nothabo went on to graduate as a medical doctor, but is now pursuing a different path – a career as a motivational speaker and coach.