Chandre Hendricks, 25, always wanted to become a lawyer. However life wasn’t all sunshine and roses for her. She fell pregnant and was forced to raise her child as a single parent. But this never stopped her from following her dreams.
During her school life, she was described as a quiet girl, she often got picked on for her weight and she began to feel insecure about her looks.
“There were struggles such as insecurities growing up which I experienced at a very young age. Mainly because I thought most of the girls in my class were prettier and had nicer hair than I did. I had very long bushy hair, which I hated. I was also very skinny. I hated that and I got teased about it a lot from boys especially.”
She explains that she simply learnt to ignore it and enjoyed being with her friends who made her happy, “I just ignored it. I was a very happy and carefree child so I just brushed it off and hung out with people who made me happy.”
Although she always knew what she wanted, she could not study immediately after matric, as she explains:
“My family had a lot of financial difficulties. I decided to take a few gap years to help them get back on their feet. It was hard but they needed me and I don’t ever regret doing that.”
It was during her gap years, that Chandre fell pregnant at 23 years old. She had to leave her job to focus on her baby.
“I remember being pregnant and having nothing. I had no job, no money. I literally had nothing. And I told God if I have this baby he needs to promise that my child won’t lack anything…and up until now God has been providing constantly, now I even have my own place, just me and my son.”
With her new son and family struggles, she began pushing her dream more and more aside until she eventually decided that 2020 was the year to start. She is now a registered law student at UNISA, while working full time and raising her son.
“I am a Quality Analyst at Capita. I started off working as a call centre agent. I got the position by working very hard to get noticed as the call centre industry is very competitive and when the time was right I applied for the position. I was so happy that I got it and so grateful to God because I never thought they would choose me.”
Chandre reflects on what it has been like balancing a career, studies and raising a son:
“It’s been very hard. The most challenging thing for me is the fact that I’m so busy that I barely get time to spend with my son. I’m hoping that one day he will understand that I’m doing this so that he can have a better life and have everything he needs. It’s very hard finding a balance between work, studies, friends and finding the right person. There are times where I don’t have time to speak to people who I speak to everyday or hang out with my best friends because I’m either working or studying or being a mom.”
I asked Chandre why she wanted to pursue law, she has this to say:
“I just love conflict, but good conflict. I always loved finding out the truth and the bigger picture so I’ve always wanted to do law.”
She goes on to say, that despite her passion and love for the law field, there haven’t always been people encouraging her to pursue it, she explains:
“Yes there were lots of people including my best friend at the time who told me that she doesn’t see me doing that. That actually hurt me a lot because it came from someone who I loved and trusted. I remember her saying that I don’t have the right personality for law because I’m too soft, that broke me.”
Chandre doesn’t see herself being stagnant, she explains where she sees herself in 5-10 years’ time:
“I want to be a millionaire,” she laughs and continues, “I want to be a very successful lawyer or advocate. I want to be the best there is and hopefully relocate to another country.”
Her biggest motivation for why she does what she does is her two-year-old son, Isaiah.
“If it wasn’t for him I don’t know what my life would’ve been like today. He keeps me sane, and he makes me want to be better. He is my everything.”
I asked Chandre what advice she has for anyone wanting to study further despite having challenges:
“Just do it. Don’t wait for tomorrow or next year. Don’t procrastinate about it. You owe it to yourself to give yourself the life you deserve. Don’t ever settle for anything less and don’t get comfortable with where you are, always aim higher and higher. Most importantly don’t listen to any negativity. In this life no one is always going to want the best for you or wish you happiness. You are responsible for that.”
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Tell us: What has Chandre’s story taught you?