Alan Whiteside (South Africa, WK 69-74)
1. If there were 2 sentences you could use to introduce yourself, what would they be?
I am an academic entrepreneur who sees ways to move things forward. I am a proud Southern African.
2. What years did you attend Waterford Kamhlaba? (What forms/year group?) 1969 - 1974
3. How did you end up at Waterford? My family moved to Swaziland in 1961 and I did all my primary schooling at St Marks Junior. Waterford was right there. My brother and I sat the entrance exam and were accepted. Michael Stern the founding head had been to the same school in Norfolk as my father (Greshams near Holt), albeit many years, later so my father trusted him with our education. My younger brother and sister Derek and Gill attended Waterford.
1. What was your expectation when you first started at WK? I am not sure I was mature enough to have any expectations, but I did see it as a way to get to university.
2. Were your expectations met? Why or why not? I really enjoyed my time there especially the last two years (A’ levels). The mix of students was wide by race, religion and nationality (but not gender – see below). At that time Waterford was the only multiracial school in Southern Africa.
3. What was the biggest lesson for you? Amazing teachers who inspired me I think of Deon Glover and Dick Eyeington for geography and Tony Hatton for history. Learning about events in South Africa and Mozambique from people who were actively being persecuted.
4. Do you have any fond memories of Waterford? Could you possibly share one with us and could we also ask you to send us one or two pictures of your time at WK?
I really developed friendships that have lasted all my life. The sport was great fun and I am so sad the squash court is no more.
5. Most embarrassing moment at Waterford? Picking up someone I was dancing with, the result: I hit her head on the low ceiling in the Guedes common room.
6. WK crush? You have to remember there were so few girls in those days that it would have to be everyone or no one.
7. What's your favourite '90s jam? The 90’s come on! The Bee Gees ‘Massachusetts’ is probably the sound track for me.
8. Who was in your WK #squad (friend group)? My best friends were David Crush, Owen Sharp and Jon Salisbury. It would be embarrassing if that is not how they remember it but we met for weekends in Paris and Amsterdam for big birthdays fairly recently.
LIFE AFTER WK
1. Please tell us what you have done or are doing at the moment? (e.g.. what you studied and what field you are currently working in)
I hold a Chair in Global Health Policy at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. Prior to this I was Director and Professor, Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD) which I established in 1998. This was at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban where I have Professor Emeritus status. Much of my work has been researching HIV/AIDS, this means COVID-19 now dominates. I was a member of the Waterford Kamhlaba United World College Governing Council from 1994 to 2018. In 2015 I was appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
2. Could you tell us what inspired you to pursue your career path?
My interest in geography came from the inspired teaching of Deon and Dick. When I applied to read geography at university in the UK I was only offered a place at the University of East Anglia to do Development Studies. I did a BA and MA there then got a D.Econ from the University of Natal.
3. Did Waterford in any way play a role in your career path choice?
The education I received at Waterford was central, the values inculcated into the students were amazing. The founders of the school were doing something they believed was ‘right’. The core message was you are privileged to be here, so you have to give back. That is something I have tried to live by.
4. What advice would you have for aspiring students who would want to be involved in similar areas of expertise?
The key thing is to show initiative and be prepared to speak truth to power. Practically you need to build a CV and that means gaining further education and experience. Watch out for opportunities and live by the values Waterford has. The Waterford network is amazing, stay connected.