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PhD Graduate Follows Sister Footsteps at UKZN



PhD Graduate Follows Sister Footsteps at UKZN

PhD Graduate Follows Sister Footsteps at UKZN. The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) celebrated a remarkable achievement as Zakithi Mkhize graduated with a PhD in Medicine, majoring in virology, during the 2024 Autumn Graduation ceremony at the Westville campus in Durban.

This milestone is particularly significant as Zakithi follows in the academic footsteps of her sister, Dr. Zamambo Mkhize, who received her PhD from the same institution eight years earlier.

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A Legacy of Excellence

In 2016, Dr. Zamambo Mkhize made headlines as the youngest PhD graduate from UKZN at the age of 31. That same week, her sister Zakithi graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in genetics and microbiology. Now, at 30, Zakithi has achieved her own PhD, cementing the Mkhize family’s legacy of academic excellence.

Overcoming Challenges

Zakithi’s journey to her PhD was marked by significant challenges. Starting her doctoral studies in 2020, she faced disruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic and difficulties in securing funding for her research. Her work focused on finding a cure for HIV and understanding the mechanisms of latency within the virus. Despite these obstacles, Zakithi remained resilient, driven by her dedication and the support of her family.

Family Support

Both Zakithi and Zamambo attribute their academic success to the unwavering support of their parents, Wonderful and Zethu Mkhize. Zakithi emphasized the importance of her family’s encouragement, stating, “We have been fortunate that my parents have always encouraged us to study further. They never put pressure on us to work as soon as we had our first degree.”

Zamambo, now an associate professor at the University of Cape Town (UCT), expressed pride in her sister’s accomplishments. She acknowledged the significant role their parents played in their success, highlighting their belief in the potential of their daughters, especially as young black women.

Celebrating Achievements

The graduation ceremony was an emotional moment for the Mkhize family. Wonderful Mkhize, who did not have the opportunity to attend school, expressed profound pride in his daughters’ achievements. “When I was young, I said to myself that I wanted to have children that would love school,” he shared. Zethu Mkhize was equally overjoyed, stating, “They did so well, I didn’t expect them to be doctors, I just wanted them to get educated.”


Zakithi Mkhize PhD achievement not only honors her own hard work and determination but also pays tribute to her family enduring support and encouragement. Her journey reflects the profound impact of familial support in overcoming challenges and achieving academic excellence.

The Mkhize sisters’ success story serves as an inspiration to aspiring scholars, demonstrating that with dedication and the right support system, significant academic milestones are attainable.

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