13 December 2021 Photo Supplied
Besides being the top medical student at UFS in 2021, Dr Mario Vieira is passionate about food, music and sport, and plays the piano and guitar for leisure.

Dr Mario Vieira, one of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) newest graduates in the MBChB programme, says he is fortunate and blessed to graduate from the Faculty of Health Sciences as the top achiever in the class of 2021. Dr Vieira will graduate at the year-end ceremonies. 

Says Dr Vieira: “Privileged is the first word that comes to mind. Yet, there are so many other emotions and feelings involved. One is relieved that the hard work is over for now, but in the same breath, quite sad that this chapter of one’s life has come to an end. Excitement also comes through, knowing that a new challenge lies ahead.” 

Dr Vieira says being the top achiever is undeniably an unbelievable achievement, but there were many other factors and people who made it possible. His family, especially his parents, were his greatest motivation. Their unconditional love and support have made his success possible. 

Multiple factors led to medicine 

According to Dr Vieira, who wanted to be a pilot when he was growing up, there were multiple factors that led to him eventually study medicine. He says: “My first experience with medicine was at a young age when I lost a good friend of mine to cancer. I believe the seed that was planted began to grow when my brother started studying medicine. 
“In high school I made the decision once I realised I was passionate about people and would love to make a difference in the life of others. I think it was the idea that if one could pass this degree, one would be equipped and capable to change lives on a daily basis. My friends in medicine and the support system in Bloemfontein were also incredibly valuable. When times were tough, we would carry each other through,” says Dr Vieira on graduating in one of the university’s toughest fields.

He is starting his internship on 1 January 2022 at Addington Hospital in Durban. 

Besides medicine, this Bothaville, Free State native is also passionate about food, music and sport. He loves cooking and hopes to retire one day with a small restaurant by the sea – cooking food and putting smiles on people’s faces. He also loves playing piano and the guitar.

His message to other students who might be considering studying medicine is: “Be courageous. You are capable of more than you think. Believe in yourself. Hard work, determination and time management can get you where you want to be.” 

Your courage 

Prof Lynette van der Merwe, who took up her new position as Academic Head in the Division Health Sciences Education, Faculty of Health Sciences on 1 December 2021, congratulated the new cohort of UFS doctors and reminded them of the three Cs in the MBChB programme in 2021 – courage, conviction and compassion.

 “I saw your courage, the way you squared your shoulders and looked personal, academic and financial problems in the eye, and endured. You were brave and strong when it mattered most. and stayed true to yourself despite overwhelming odds. You made good choices although they were hard, you found a way to put one foot in front of the other when you were too tired to even think.”

“In the words of the poet Amanda Gorman, “There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it. May you always carry your light into a dark world.” 

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