Ms Kathy Fan, Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon at King's College Hospital, is not only an inspiring surgeon, she is also an inspiring mentor, according to 20-year-old student Rachel Appiah.
“Kathy has been an inspirational role model on my journey,” Rachel explained. “I learnt from her that if I wanted to achieve greatness, there was a certain level of determination and courage that I needed to have.”
Rachel was paired with Ms Fan as part of a King’s mentorship programme, which is available to local schools. Three years ago, Sacred Heart Catholic School in Camberwell offered Rachel the opportunity to have a professional mentor through the King’s scheme and she was teamed up with Kathy Fan. Today Rachel is at Aston University studying business management and English language, and has put what she learnt from Kathy into practice.
Kathy Fan decided to become a mentor because of the challenges she faced when growing up. She said, “I knew I had to be the best I could be from the moment I came to the UK as a seven-year-old unable to speak English. So, supporting young women and helping find out how they can succeed in their future careers despite their start in life is incredibly important to me – and I hope I can make a positive difference as I have done with Rachel.
“If a mentor can help to motivate one person I think that could start a chain reaction of empowerment!”
Recently, Ms Fan was invited by Rachel to take part in the recent She Who Achieves event for young women attending state comprehensive schools in London. Ms Fan told the group of young women at the event about some of the key factors behind her own success as a surgeon. “I think that my self-belief, motivation and grit have helped me become successful. I didn’t fit the usual picture of a surgeon – I was female for a start! So, I knew I had to be good to make it. Proper preparation is essential for surgery, and I try to keep a good work/life balance and share my successes with my team. But, the bottom line for me is to remain grounded.”
To prepare for a successful future career, Ms Fan advised the young women to work hard, have an end goal in mind broken down into achievable steps – and importantly she added, “celebrate your achievements and reward yourself.”