It’s not enough to be the first to do it, it is your responsibility to create healthy environments for those joining you to achieve their best selves. Be the master key for the doors that people do not have the strength to kick down themselves.




Nelson Mandela University

Zithulele Nkosinathi Tshabalala, 35, is a senior lecturer in human anatomy at the Nelson Mandela University. Completing his PhD in 2019 from the University of Pretoria, his academic journey began as a technical assistant and advanced to teaching anatomy within the health science faculty. This exposure gave him a range of knowledge on teaching health sciences students and how to best align knowledge, in preparation for the interdisciplinary nature of their careers, for the best care of their patients. Zithulele’s move to Mandela University was influenced by the new medical school in Missionvale township, which was an opportunity to serve the community by training primary healthcare-oriented doctors. Creating an academic environment of inclusion and social awareness is a critical focus of Zithulele’s developmental process. He was the first anatomist at the university and was at the forefront of starting the Human Anatomy section. As acting HOD, he guides his 14 members in the fields of human anatomy, integrated pathology, medical biochemistry, pharmacology and physiology. Zithulele believes giving students access to resources will not only help them excel in their studies but also reveal clinically relevant resources, exposing them to all aspects of understanding the human body using virtual dissection tables, AR and VR.

  • BSc Medical Science (UP)
  • BSc (Hons) Macro-anatomy (UP)
  • MSc Anatomy (Cum Laude) (UP)
  • PhD Anatomy (UP)

  • JM Boon prize for Best Achievement in Anatomy research at Masters and Doctoral level. 
  • Second place: SV Naidoo prize for Best poster presentation, ASSA National Conference. 
  • Second place: Best oral presentation by a student researcher at the Faculty Research Day of the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria. 
  • Member of the Golden Key International Honour Society.
  • Member of the Anatomical Society of Southern Africa (ASSA) council.

I was teased because of my discoloured teeth throughout my primary school years, which made me quite reserved. I had veneers installed in grade 7 and my confidence was immediately boosted. Thereafter, I was in the top 10 throughout all my high school grades because I started to enjoy going to school.

Please remember to take care of yourself. Do not let the pursuit of wanting to be the best take everything from you. Time will show you that your being is worth more than what you can prove to others. You may not like to hear it, but your light is incredibly bright, allowing people who find warmth in it to appreciate you. My Guy, celebrate yourself … O lepanstula la nnete.

I want to see a South Africa where the descendants of those that willingly or unwillingly contributed to medical education with their bodies truly benefit from a health system that was not initially made for them. A South Africa where organs of justice and prosperity are transplanted to bodies that will uplift our country which has an ACL tear.

View previous winners from 2018 to 2022

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