Samantha Williams, a law graduate from the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, grew up surrounded by gangsterism and violence in Lavender Hill, Cape Town. She explains her story of how education got her out of the community.
“I lived with females only. I never had a male role model or presence in my life. It was me, my mom, my aunt and grandmother. My mom worked hard just to get me into school.”
She continues to explain how her mother kept her in doors during her childhood:
“Growing up in Lavender Hill, my mom never allowed me to play outside. I never understood why. I was very lonely, I didn’t have many friends. I got more into my books. I enjoyed rewriting my work from school, drawing patterns and numbers I would rewrite it and that caused my love for reading and learning. Now that I’m grown up I understand why she kept me away from the streets, she just wanted to protect me.”
Samantha lived with her mother, grandmother and aunt. Surrounded by females, she felt the void of not having a father around.
“My dad was never really in my life, I struggled with that. I didn’t really have any male role models. The only males at home were my uncles, who were not good influences. Although my mother was both a mother and a father to me.”
Along with that, Samantha struggled with getting out of her shell. She was a shy, quiet girl but she forced herself to break out of that shell.
“I was very shy as a kid, I couldn’t stand in front of people, I used to have stage freight. I forced myself to come out of my shell. I then did public speaking in high school.”
It was through public speaking that Samantha found herself part of the school’s RCL team. The school’s principal then advised her to go into the field of law.
“I always wanted to help people. I thought psychology would be a good career path, because I could help people with their problems and understand their problems but my principal actually gave me the idea to become a lawyer, because I was very witty.”
Samantha truly has a heart and passion for helping people as she explains why law gives her that chance to give back to the community:
“The people in my community don’t really know their rights, with police brutality. So I want to give back. My mom always stopped me from saying anything to the police, if you speak back to the police you have something to hide, but that’s not the point, people don’t understand that they have rights, you don’t need the police to search your house without a warrant. It is my background, my circumstances and my need to want to help people that pushes me into law.”
Samantha’s life at work is unpredictable; she explains the day-to-day tasks of a candidate attorney:
“As a candidate attorney, I am working in the litigation department. We are in court every day, either the high or magistrate court. We deal with all the court procedures. I would do appearances in the magistrate court and admin in the high court.”
The love for education that Samantha has just never run dry, as she explains where she sees herself in the next 5-10 years:
“I plan on studying even further. Education is key. Education gets you out of your situation; it got me out of my community. I want to become an academic lecturer and practise on the side.”
Samantha ends off with advice to anyone wanting to pursue law or better themselves:
“Do as much extra activities in school as you can. If you want to get into law, first make sure that it is for you. Seek assistance from teachers and mentors at school. If you don’t have someone at home to help you, seek help at school. If you show them that you want help and want to go further with your life, they will help you. If you need to take a gap year, take your gap year but go work, do something to make your CV look good, gain experience.”
If you enjoyed this story why not read this one about a young attorney as well, here
Tell us: Has education played an important role in your life? How?