Alumna on the front lines of COVID-19

We have all seen the sacrifice that frontline health workers around the world have so willingly given. Individuals have demonstrated courage, compassion, stamina and selflessness. We are thrilled to introduce you to Dr. Mutoni, a 2013 GGAST alumna, who immediately joined the frontlines to support the COVID-19 pandemic. We thank her and all like her who continue to serve the community.


Tell us about yourself.

I am Dr. Mutoni Clemence and I was part of the pioneer class, graduating in 2013. While I was in high school, I studied Physics, Chemistry and Biology (PCB) with the aspirations to become a medical doctor…. and luckily my dream came true.

You went to University of Rwanda to study medicine. What specifically did you study and when did you graduate?

I attended the University of Rwanda College of Medicine & Health Sciences. At first, I pursued a pharmacy specialty. However, I realized quickly that I was not passionate about pharmacy at all. Due to my strong test scores my first year, I was able to apply to switch my major to general medicine. My application was accepted, so I made the switch! I graduated from the University of Rwanda as a general physician in November of 2019.

What were your biggest obstacles in medical school?

I met many obstacles in medical school. The workload the first two years was more than I expected. Although we had a lot to learn in a short amount of time including human anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and microbiology. I managed by joining different discussion groups and taking advantage of support systems.

Even though I desired to be a medical doctor, I struggled with missing my family and at times felt burnt out. I overcame it by taking care of myself, exercising, eating well, laughing, loving, or calling over friends. It helped that everyone at school was going through the same emotions. It made me push myself harder.

What surprised you about school?

Among the things that surprised me were the lack of other women. Having gone to an all-girls high school and lower secondary school, I was not used to having men in the classroom, not to mention having them as the majority. When I first arrived, I was scared and felt I did not belong.

Tell us about your clinical internship at Rwanda Ministry of Health?

In medical school, we had several rotations in different departments and at different teaching schools around the country. Internships starts when you reach your third year. We rotate in every hospital department but spend much time in pediatric, internal medicine, gynecology and obstetrics, and surgery. The rotations taught me to become more independent, adapt quickly, and I also learned how to work professionally.

You were a working at Rwanda Biomedical Center during the summer of 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic. What was that like?


The numbers of COVID-19 surged when I was a fresh graduate from medical school. My first thought was the need and necessity for medical professionals to step in as frontline workers. As a healthy adult, I took COVID-19 as an opportunity to intervene and give back to my country and family at large. I was able to begin volunteering in a quarantine center where I worked as a data manager and medical doctor. I had to distance myself from my family and from the people I love because of the fear of transmitting the virus to them. During the pandemic, I have realized that medical job is not just a job….it is so much more.

You are currently working at Kabgayi District Hospital. Tell us about your job.

The Kabgayi District hospital is in the southern province, an hour from the capital of Kigali. I am currently working an intern doctor and I work with clients in all departments. In August of 2021, I will be deployed to another hospital.

Where do you see your career going in the next 5 years?

I do not know well what my tomorrow holds but I wish to further my studies in public health, urology, or pediatrics.

What were some of your favorite memories of Gashora?

Gashora was and will always the best place to me. Gashora shaped me to become a confident, responsible woman. I am so proud to be part of the Gashora community. Among the best memories was our weekly counselling each Wednesdays with our mentor. Everyone had a mentor who would monitor your academic progress and social life. Additionally, I will also always remember the Friday night dancing.

What advice would you give to your Gashora sisters who are coming behind you?

I would tell them that university life is great and challenging. We may have many great ambitions and aspirations, but life is full of unpredictability. Your career may be affected by various events such as financial or health issues, however, always be prepared when an opportunity knocks to grab it. Most importantly, celebrate your own success and be yourself.

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