Levona Solomons had a life-long dream of becoming a social worker. After many trials and tribulations, she finally decided to start studying to become one. Despite being 38-years-old when she started, she was determined to reach her goal and get a more rewarding and secure job than her parents.

“My mom was a factory worker and my father was a labourer so he could only work when the weather was good.”

Levona grew up in Retreat in Cape Town. She was raised by both her parents who struggled financially as they had six children.

Levona and two of her high school friends wanted to study social work after school, but Levona was the only one to apply straight after matric. Unfortunately, because of her lack of finances, her application was rejected. She didn’t give up though and worked hard to reach her goal of being accepted to study social work.

The work experience before attending university was a learning curve for Levona. Her first job was as a photographer assistant. She then got married and once again applied to study, but was rejected.

Levona then worked for an import company for many years.

“It was a low pay job and there were people who felt that they were superior to me. I felt that I deserved better. This experience actually encouraged me to go and study. It was a blessing in disguise.”

The most difficult part in Levona’s university journey was that it was financially challenging. She was older, she couldn’t drive, and the university was quite a distance from home. Another challenging aspect was that it was the beginning of the digital era, which she was clueless about.

“Yes it was going to be financially draining, but me and my husband had to make the sacrifice. I could see the benefits from those around me who went to study at university.”

Levona describes her university experience as difficult. It was something new after all those years and she had to deal with a lot of young people. She also explained that going to study was a necessity for her.

Levona said that she was glad that she decided to study even though it was a difficult period for her and her family. She had no regrets.

“My first experience as a social worker was when I was placed doing statutory work, which is court work. I worked with children placed by the department of social development. It was a good experience and really built me up to be a professional.”

“It also broadened my horizons as it familiarised me with the different legislation of our country, especially the Children’s Act.”

Levona applied at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and this time around she was accepted – but not to study social work. She was accepted to study education, but this didn’t stop her. In her second year she made an internal transfer to social work. She graduated five years later and has worked as a social worker up to this day.

Levona’s advice to people who think they’re not able to study is that: “You must just put your mind to it because it’s not easy, there’s a lot of sacrifice. You shouldn’t let finances put you down because the benefits are sweet.”


Tell us: Do you believe that you can achieve anything despite financial obstacles?