Pauline Podlashuk, a life less ordinary

Pauline Podlashuk  was a Lithuanian-born medical graduate of the University, graduating MB ChB in 1925 at the age of 43. She led a full life by all accounts, becoming an activist of the South African suffragette movement.

Pauline Podlashuk, Matriculation Slip 1919-20

Born in Shavli, Russia (modern day Šiauliai in Lithuania), Podlashuk was educated in the Ukraine and Lithuania, postponing her study of medicine in order to join her brothers who immigrated to South Africa in 1902.

Before coming to Glasgow, Podlashuk lived a full and interesting life; she was secretary of the Women’s Enfranchisement League in Johannesburg; and had the opportunity to translate one of Leo Tolstoy’s last Russian language letters to Mahatma Gandhi, as well as attending a meeting between Gandhi and Pixley ka Isaka Seme, the founder and President of the African National Congress, discussing Indian passive resistance movement at the Tolstoy Farm near Johannesburg in 1911.

Podlashuk finally matriculated at the University in 1919, aged 37, to start her studies in Medicine, and graduated MB ChB in 1925. She continued to practice medicine thereafter,  returning via Europe to South Africa in 1926. Her memoirs, Adventure of Life – Reminiscences of Pauline Podlashuk, were published in 2010.

I am sure we can take inspiration from Podlashuk’s life less ordinary.

It’s never too late to start that Medical Degree!


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Filed under Africa, Commonwealth of Nations, Europe, Russian Federation

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