By Mischa Milne, Communications Coordinator
When Nothabo Ncube was 14, she told her mother something that would change the course of her life from that point on.
“I made a promise to my mother that I would become a medical doctor.”
Those words, just before her mother passed away, became a guiding light on her academic and spiritual journey. When she moved from Zimbabwe to Canada at the age of 17 to complete her last year of high school, she was determined to succeed and get the grades she needed for a university scholarship.
However, the path to post-secondary education was not necessarily a smooth one. Nothabo discrimination and racism, even from her teachers — some of whom assumed that because she had arrived in Canada from Zimbabwe, she was not as academically strong as her classmates.
“That was a defining moment in my journey, recognizing that people can judge you and put you in a certain column because they assume that you just landed here in Canada, so you are not as good as other kids simply because of where you come from.”
Despite those barriers, she was able to excel in school and earned a full scholarship to McMaster University for her undergraduate degree. Upon admission into medical school, another important point in Nothabo’s journey occurred as a participant in Oprah Winfrey’s Life Class at the age of 22.
“Being in that room, surrounded by women who had incredible stories and hearing Oprah’s story – intuitively, I could see pieces of myself in her journey, in her pain, in her struggles, in the circumstances that she had to live through such as poverty. It helped me to shift the lens through which I saw myself. I felt empowered. There was just a shift in my awareness, a shift in my consciousness.”
That experience planted the seed for what was to come. While Nothabo was still determined to become a medical doctor, she left that space knowing she was called towards something more than just medicine – but didn’t know yet what that would look like.
After graduating from Windsor University School of Medicine, Nothabo was invited to share her story on the TEDx stage. From there, her journey as a speaker, mentor and coach took off, and she was invited to speak in South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Dubai, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
“For me, that was a sign that my voice was needed, that my story is valid, that I would have more impact in healing people from a soul level than physically. I knew that that was my true purpose and calling in life. The journey to becoming a medical doctor was the pathway, but I knew that it was leading me to something more.”
As the keynote speaker at MOSAIC’s Immigrant Professionals Conference, Nothabo hopes that attendees will take away a sense of hope and inspiration from hearing her story.
“I want them to understand that things might not yet unfold in the way that they wanted, but there is so much more waiting for them in life, and that just being here in this moment, being alive, and being an immigrant in this country which serves immigrants, is a blessing.”
The free IPC Conference takes place over two weekends – Jan 23 and 30. To register for IPC and hear from Nothabo – as well as other inspiring speakers – click here.