Climbing the hill is not easy, but when you reach the top there is light. I’m a delicately shy and introverted person. Somehow my shyness influenced my self-confidence, which made me believe in myself more. I finished high school in 2015, which was an exciting year for me.
Currently I’m a student at the University of the Witwatersrand, who is currently studying towards a Bachelor in Pharmacy. I spend most of my time studying and on my free time I just watch educational shows on television like Dr Oz or listen to the radio. I am an indoors person, I hardly go to parties. I guess that makes sense since I am shy and not that confident.
When I was still in school in 2014, I worked very hard to pass Grade 11 so that I could pass and proceed to Grade 12. When I received my report, I was filled with heartfelt joy, because I passed with exceptional marks. The entire December holiday that year, I counted down the weeks until schools reopened again.
As usual I spent my days alone at home, watching TV while my mom was at work. Every day of that December I was impatient as I waited for January 2015 to arrive. Then in a blink of an eye, it finally came. I was one of the learners on the list of The Class Of 2015 for Thuto-kitso Comprehensive school.
My mother is a single parent who works as a domestic worker. She doesn’t earn a lot of but it’s enough to support us financially. At the beginning of my matric year while most of my friends planned their prom and parties, I applied to many tertiary institutions, which made the prospect of finishing high school even more exciting. Initially I told myself that I just had to pass well enough to get into a FET College, but deep down I knew that I wanted to become a pharmacist and that I could only study pharmacy at university. The Black Child It Is Possible programme, which I attended 2012 inspired me to stay motivated, regardless of the situation at home or what people said about me.
I then passed my first term with flying colours and came second in the entire class of grade 12. This changed my way of thinking, I was not going to apply to an FET College, I was going to apply to a university. Tshwane University of Technology was my where I wanted to go. TUT offered pharmacy course and their requirements were not as strict compared to traditional universities.
While I was thinking about my future, my friends constantly reminded me about the prom. I knew that my mother couldn’t afford to pay for the things I needed in order to go to the matric dance. She worked really hard, but it wasn’t for me to go to the matric ball, but rather to be able to afford my tuition fees for university. The application fee for TUT was not very high in comparison to the University of Johannesburg, Wits University or Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. My mother could afford the R250 I needed for my application to study at TUT.
As time went by I worked even harder to achieve excellent marks and never missed any classes. I went to school when the sun was about to rise and came back when the sun set. I studied through some nights. I was determined to prove society wrong, I would not be become what they expected me to be a ‘nobody’.
When I received my mid-year results, I was delighted once again to see that I was second on the list of top students again. Then one day, one of my teachers asked me where I had applied to study and I told her I applied at TUT. She told me that I had a lot of potential and that I should apply at Wits University instead of settling for TUT. The thought of asking my mother for money again, pained me. The application fee for Wits was R200, but she gave it none the less. I then applied to UJ for Geology and NMMU for pharmacy.
I applied at both Universities because in one of the career shows I attended they said that, one should apply to at least 3 or more universities to be on a safer side. When the third term arrived I continued working hard to improve my marks. Then I received a letter of invitation to attend an interview at the University of Johannesburg. I worried about how I was going to get there; my mother didn’t have that kind of money. Luckily the Matric Dance was cancelled, after the governing body found that the school’s academic results had dropped severely. The school assisted me, they offered to pay the cost of my interview trip and so I went.
My friends were all still concerned about parties and ‘living it up’, they didn’t think about where they were going the next year. To them I seemed to be a lost cause because they thought that I wouldn’t be able to go study because of my financial situation at home. I applied to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for a bursary/loan to pay for my tuition and residence fees. While I wrote my final exams I anxiously awaited my acceptance letters. I tried enjoying the festive holiday that followed, but all I could think about was varsity. Then in January 2016, the next year, I received an SMS early the morning informing me that I had passed matric with four distinctions.
That SMS was then followed by another, Wits informing me that I had been accepted to study towards a Bachelor in Pharmacy and that I qualified for financial assistance. I was so happy, I could’ve screamed our roof off. NMMU and UJ sent me acceptance confirmation emails. The idea that I could choose between four different universities was overwhelming.
My school principal, after being informed by the various universities about my acceptance, took me and my mother to two academic dinners. One was held by the municipality and the other by Gauteng West District. I chose to study at the University of The Witwatersrand because they offered me an entrance scholarship and financial assistance (NSFAS). The Department of Education also contributes to my studies as part of their Job Creation Programme in the Gauteng Province. I was going to go to varsity without any worries of money or my mother not being able to afford it. I was relieved and happy at that prospect.
My neighbours and community judged me without knowing my struggles. I don’t have as many friends as I did in high school, but I understand that climbing the hill indeed not easy, but the light was eventually revealed. Do not judge the book by its cover.