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Master’s in Clinical Psychology Awarded Cum Laude

Cum laude master’s graduate, Ms Lorelle Pillay.

Master’s in Clinical Psychology Awarded Cum Laude

Ms Lorelle Pillay was awarded her Master of Social Science in Clinical Psychology cum laude for her research entitled, An Exploration of Young Women’s Menstrual Experiences in the African Context: A Scoping Review. It explored and mapped the impact of menstrual experiences on young women as well as the socio-cultural factors that play major roles in influencing certain menstrual experiences. The study also mapped recommendations made by previous researchers to alleviate these challenges.

Pillay’s findings revealed that young women’s experiences of menstruation in Africa have mainly been negative due to the lack of adequate water, sanitation and hygiene facilities within their environment, misinformation about menstruation, the way in which menstruating females are portrayed by cultural norms, and the lack of education around menstruation and menstrual processes.

‘The study highlights the changes that need to be implemented to improve the experience and overall quality of life of young females in Africa, empowering them and spreading awareness about menstrual health,’ Pillay said. It also highlights the different socio-cultural beliefs surrounding menstruation and their impact on menstrual experiences. ‘I grew up in a culture of concealment surrounding menstruation and I wanted to find a way to bring to light the challenges that both I and other women face in different environments.’

Pillay obtained her bachelors and honours degrees from UKZN which she said feels like home. ‘I feel very nurtured at UKZN. I was hesitant to take on my research topic at first but my supervisor, Dr Sachet Valjee, had faith in me and my topic and guided me. I am grateful for his input and the motivation from my colleagues during our master’s coursework. Hearing that I could make it to the top from someone who was already there was very reassuring. Completing this degree has shown me that I am able to take on anything and succeed.’

Valjee shared his admiration saying, ‘Congratulations Lorelle, I wish you all the best in your future as a professional practitioner.’

Her interest in understanding human behaviour developed as she listened to her father (who was a policeman) recount anecdotes about his work. This coupled with her determination to succeed in academics instilled in her by her mother, a retired teacher, motivated her to help people who feel they have no way out. Therefore, she decided to enter the field of clinical psychology.

She described her husband, parents and family as her biggest supporters during her degree. ‘It is often said that a person is a person through persons (umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu) and this could not have been truer for me. I owe my success to them.’

Words: Jennene Naidu
Photograph: Sethu Dlamini