Popya with Samantha du Toit

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Samantha du Toit is registered dietician at the age of 32. As a teenager  she lacked self-confidence, but overcame her timidity during her life-journey and has been working as a dietician for eight years now.

It is hard to believe that she was once a shy teenager with little confidence.

Born in Walvis Bay, du Toit attended Duneside High in Walvis Bay and later moved to Windhoek with her family, where she continued her schooling at Delta Secondary School. After high school she undertook her Bachelors of Science in Physiology and Psychology at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

After completing the three year degree course she went on to do a two-year Honours degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She then went on to complete her Master’s degree in Nutrition.

“I was privileged to grow up in a stable family environment with very supportive parents. They raised me in a manner that allowed me to develop to my fullest potential. I was also fortunate to have a group of intelligent and fun friends from primary school to high school to university. I believe that it is very important to choose the right friends so that you are not influenced negatively, but rather positively,” she says.

The transition from high school to university was challenging for du Toit, in terms of having to suddenly become an independent individual. However, she thoroughly enjoyed the independence and the new phase in her life.

“It was a challenge I enjoyed and embraced. The first three years of university felt similar to an extension of high school, but in the last two years I was actually working towards a specific career. It was very overwhelming at times, but also very motivating to realise that I was working towards becoming a qualified health professional.

“I believe that my entire university experience shaped me into who I am today.  The past few years of work experience also helped to refine some of the good qualities,” she says.

After finishing her Honours degree, du Toit returned to Windhoek for a position as a dietician with the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS). “This was a very frustrating experience. I went for an interview for this position early in 2007 and then received notice late in 2007 that I was awarded the job.

“Unfortunately it took time to get this position in place and in that time I started working for a catering company that catered for numerous hospitals. I also started a private practice in a medical centre that same year. Due to the private practice commitment, it was impossible to accept the job at the Ministry of Health,” says du Toit.

She currently works as a nutrition and dietetic consultant at Medicine World in Maerua Mall, which aims to encourage and implement optimum nutrition in Namibia through a variety of services. She says to become a professional nutrition and dietetic consultant requires a four to five year university degree, which come with their own advantages: such as having a variety of fields you can work in, you can be self-employed or employed by a company or hospital.

“I feel very blessed that I am in a profession where I constantly continue learning about health and nutrition, and that I can work on making a difference in people’s lives and translate the knowledge into practice. “I feel very passionate about this and enjoy it thoroughly,” she says.

She feels that being self-employed is worthwhile, but can be overwhelming at times. “You are your own receptionist, personal assistant, human resource manager, financial manager, general manager and operations manager.

“Also, when you can’t work due to illness or due to children being sick, you are not earning any money. But on the plus side, being your own boss means that the harder and smarter you work, the more benefits and profits you will reap,” she says, noting that she now has a partner to work with and that working as a team makes things easier.

Samantha believes that it is very important to visualise where you would like to be in 10-15 years. “You need to keep a future goal in mind in order to continue going forward and actually achieving something. Question everything, so that you understand how the world works. Research and really think about what it is you enjoy doing, where your talent lies and what career you would like to build for yourself. Work hard, but keep the balance,” she smiled.

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