Research psychologist and epidemiologist at Stellenbosch University, Lynn Hendricks has been acknowledged internationally for her outstanding work as a researcher after she was awarded a R2 million scholarship by one of Belgium’s largest universities. The R2 million PhD Global Minds Scholarship offered by Katholieke Universiteit (KU) Leuven in Belgium awards bursaries to exceptional students from developing countries.
Due to her family moving quite extensively, she has lived in Athlone, Bonteheuwel, Bridgetown and Mitchells Plain and has experienced hand the poverty and social inequalities of the Cape Flats.
Self-described as someone who loves people and socializing, as well as giving back to the community, 36-year-old Hendricks shared that her early years at high school were not an easy road, citing several challenges she had to face.
“I had some difficulties in high school, it didn’t go all too well. I had some local trauma’s that I had to deal with growing up and matric didn’t go so well. I almost never made it,” she recalled.
“I applied to universities. I applied to UCT, Stellenbosch, UWC and I didn’t get in.”
The rejection seemed to have worked in her favour as it afforded her the opportunity to study in the United States where she completed her honours in psychology. She returned to South Africa to pursue her master’s degree in Psychology at the University of the Western Cape.
Hendricks also lectured at various universities across the province. In 2014, she worked as a researcher for the City of Cape Town. She then moved on to study at Stellenbosch University where she completed her Master’s in clinical epidemiology.
“It can be very tough, very overwhelming, especially if you have these goals that you have been planning for so long, and then you get this hiccup along the way but it’s up to you to just keep resilient and keep trying.”
“I had a teacher that told me I couldn’t be a scientist because females weren’t supposed to be scientists at that time,” she said incredulously, laughing in disbelief.
Hendricks explained that the scholarship will sponsor her for four years and will allow her to focus fully on her PHD studies by funding some of the research costs. It also includes trip expenses to Belgium as well as sponsoring a delegation from Belgium to come to South Africa, allowing for international collaboration.
Her research will focus on how young women make healthcare decisions and will be working in the Bonteheuwel area. Hendricks will be working with local artists and DJs.
“We are going to be using art and collective ways in collecting information which is another aim of this study is to explore how we use art, to create local knowledge.”
Hendricks shared that the data derived from her research will then be produced into a short film which will be distributed to communities and collaborators.
“At the moment, we are in the first phase of our research which is doing our networking, background, collaborations and set up. We received our ethics approval from Stellenbosch university which we should be receiving in January. Then we will be working on the ground collecting data.”
In offering advice to youth, she said:
“You are your own hero, and there’s nothing and no one that can stop you from achieving your dreams. It doesn’t matter if it takes five years, five days, 50 years eventually you will get there, if you just keep going. Just be strong and keep going.”