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Converting dreams to reality 

[Photo: Thabelo Khoboko] University of Leicester Combined Sciences graduate, Thabelo Khoboko, recently received the prestigious Levi Montalcini African Fellowship, enabling her to follow a graduate programme in Neuroscience at the University of Cape Town.  

Thabelo Khoboko graduated from this University in 2000. Since then she has returned to her home, the Kingdom of Lesotho, where she worked as a research consultant for 18 months conducting developmental research while looking for ways to realise her longstanding ambition to become a neuroscientist.

The Levi Montalcini award, made through the International Brain Research Organisation (IBRO) has enabled Thabelo to take the next step in her career path and embark on a postgraduate degree at the Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town. 

Her current research is investigating the physiology of neural networks within the basal ganglia with a view to contributing towards the development of effective therapies against Parkinson’s Disease. 

Speaking of her undergraduate years at the University of Leicester, Thabelo said: “I believe my time at Leicester prepared me for the various changes and challenges that I have faced. I had so many experiences at the University, and so many people touched my life in various ways within and beyond academia. It is all this that helped to shape me, to teach me to endure difficulties and continue to believe in myself.

“Life can be a hard battle to fight, but I think all too often we take our own aspirations for granted and forget that the difference between our dreams and reality is simply a lot of hard work and faith.  

“It’s invaluable to have people believe in you. I never fail to emphasise the difference people can make in your life. Throughout my entire time at Leicester, and since, I am convinced that 90 per cent of the changes in my life have been effected by others.  

“Just some of the people at Leicester who made such a huge difference to me were Clare Taylor and Sue Malpass from the Student Welfare Office, Dr Revers Donga (Department of Pre Clinical Sciences), Dr John Challiss (Department of Cell Physiology and Pharmacology), and Dr Bob Harris (Department of Biology).

Dr Challiss recalled: “As an undergraduate here, Thabelo impressed me time and time again by her desire to gain maximum benefit from her studies and her irrepressible enthusiasm for the neuroscience project she undertook with me. I am absolutely delighted that she has received this recognition, and if anyone deserved the opportunity it affords, it’s Thabelo.”

Thabelo added: “So many friends have been important to me. Amongst them I would like to mention specially Drs Noelle Njeru (MBCHB) and Sharmini Rajenthran (MBCHB), my fellow Leicester alumni and the most amazing females. It goes without saying that my family was always there as a source of strength.

“I could go on and on, if only because through all the ups and downs of student life so many people touched my life. I am certainly glad to be a graduate of the University of Leicester.”

  • The Levi Montalcini Foundation, established by Rita Levi Montalcini (1986 Nobel Laureate in Medicine) and her sister Paola, enables IBRO to finance scholarships for two young African women for two years. The Foundation is committed to the education of African girls and young women, believing in the key role they can play in the continent’s future.

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Last updated: 21 February 2003 10:55
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