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Nomathamsanqa (Noma) Tholo graduates from Ulster University this summer with a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Personalised Medicine from the School of Medicine.

Born in Zimbabwe, Noma moved to the UK in 2015 and currently resides in Derry~Londonderry. While in the UK Noma faced several challenges, including financial barriers and lack of opportunities to work. She always had the ambition of completing a degree in health sciences, upon her arrival, she was determined to see that ambition come to fruition by continuing her higher education studies. Despite the barriers she faced, in 2017 Noma enrolled in the University of Sussex to undertake a Masters degree in Pharmacy. Unfortunately, due to lack of financial support (tuition fees) in 2019, she was forced to quit her studies and return to Northern Ireland. Still, she remained determined to complete her higher education journey.

The turning point came in 2021 when Noma was awarded a scholarship to study Personalised Medicine at Ulster University.

Reflecting on her experience; Noma said

“Having to quit my course was a big blow for me but I had the encouragement and support of friends and the wider community, so I stayed humble, resilient, and focused on my goals. I continued to apply for other higher educational opportunities and finally had a breakthrough in 2021 when Ulster University offered me a scholarship to study Personalised Medicine. This scholarship has been a real life-changing opportunity and has helped me to continue my studies and reach my lifetime goals.”

Throughout Noma’s studies at Ulster University’s Derry~Londonderry campus, she has remained dedicated to her studies with a proven track record in academic excellence which earned her a consistent place on the Dean’s List award (first-class students).

Noma has actively contributed to university community life, holding leadership roles in various student societies over the years. She is the current president of the Personalised Medicine Society, Global Business Society, and International Students Society, as well as the treasurer for the Women in STEM Society. Additionally, she serves as the Restart a Heart Ulster University representative, BAME+ Network and Mind Your Mood ambassador, and class representative of the final year, Personalised Medicine cohort.

She has collaborated with colleagues from the Medicine and Physician Associate courses in activities such as “Restart a Heart” and designing and delivering a multi-professional outreach session for secondary school pupils. These sessions aimed to elucidate the significance of inter-professional collaboration within the health and care sector. Noma's dedication to this project was exemplary, and her efforts resulted in an engaging and informative session that left a lasting impact on the pupils and the outreach team. Additionally, Noma has led and reinvigorated the societies, hosting educational, cultural, and well-being events for members. Under Noma’s leadership, the societies were nominated for this year’s Ulster University Student’s Union awards.

Noma’s contributions extend beyond the campus as she serves as a patient peer mentor and member of the Clarendon Medical Patients Committee, working with social workers to create opportunities and programs that help patients overcome isolation. She also works with children of all ages and abilities supporting their maths and English at Foyle Kumon Centre.

Speaking about her time at Ulster University; Noma said,

"The collaborative learning environment at Ulster University has been incredibly enriching. The support and encouragement from friends, coursemates, the student union, and the university community have been instrumental in overcoming the challenges I faced. I am deeply grateful for the opportunities, mentoring, and experiences that have shaped my journey so far."

In recognition of her outstanding achievements, Noma has been awarded the Allstate NI Convocation Undergraduate Student of the Year Award 2024 further highlighting her exceptional academic and extracurricular contributions, during her time at Ulster University.

"I would like to use this opportunity to convey a special message of thanks to my lecturers, course directors, advisors, supervisors, mentors, and the Ulster University senior leadership team. Your support and guidance throughout my journey at Ulster University have been invaluable. I am fortunate to have had such inspiring mentors and educators. This award reflects the incredible opportunities and encouragement I have received from all of you. I am humbled and deeply grateful to be awarded the Allstate Convocation Student of the Year Award. Thank you for your recognition and nomination for the Award; it means a lot to me."

Nomathamsanqa’s graduation marks the beginning of an exciting and adventurous new chapter for her. Recently selected for the National Health Service (NHS) Clinical Entrepreneurs Programme, Noma is committed to developing and scaling innovative solutions in healthcare. As the Founder and CEO of Sustenance Development Consultants Ltd, Noma aims to drive productive, impactful projects in the education and healthcare sector, making a lasting impact on staffing, patients’ care, and clinical outcomes.

If you are interested in finding out more about the course Noma is graduating from please visit Personalised Medicine with optional placement year BSc (Hons) at Ulster University 2024/25 entry - Full-time Undergraduate Study