“You can do anything and everything you set your mind to. It won’t be easy but at the end of the day it will be worth it.” These are the words of Sonia Solomon, a 49-year-old teacher who graduated from university at 44.

Sonia’s dream of becoming a teacher was put on hold when she fell pregnant with her son at the age of 19. She had to drop out of school in grade 11 and provide for her son as a single mom.

Sonia’s university journey all started when her cousin enrolled her at CLC (Community Learning Centre). She says that her cousin was tired of her not having matric so she enrolled her and told her that things would be taken care of and they were.

So Sonia took on the task of working and attending night classes to finish her matric. Her goal was to get into university to become a teacher and finishing her matric was just the beginning of her long journey. Working and studying was not easy as Sonia describes.

“Most days it was tiring, stressful. It was hard but the actual work was very nice. I enjoyed it.”

Sonia’s son was in grade 11 at the time of her completing matric and she wanted nothing more than to finish her schooling before he did.

“My one motivator was to finish matric before him.”

Sonia passed matric in 2007 despite failing one subject.

“My matric year was the best year ever even though I hadn’t been in a schooling system for 16 or 17 years. It was absolutely wonderful going back to school.”

Sonia started her university journey at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in 2009. Her cousin helped her with the enrollment process as she herself was in university. Sonia found it really difficult to adapt and naturally most of the students were younger than she was, fresh out of high school. She opted to major in English and Social Sciences.

“Going to varsity was a struggle. My first year I failed some of my subjects, felt like a failure, like this wasn’t who I was supposed to be.”

Dane was a friend who Sonia received a lot of help from. She emphasises that because of him she connected with other students and he really showed her the ropes.

Not only was adapting to university a struggle but a terrible tragedy struck in Sonia’s first year of university; her house burnt down. This had a major effect on her life.

“Things were tough. It’s not easy deciding that you’re going to study full-time if you don’t have a support system. My mom was my support system but when the house burnt down I had to find other ways to cope.”

As with all first time students, there are a number of challenges that one faces and Sonia was no exception. She wasn’t techno savvy, she lacked finances and she didn’t have a decent phone.

“One of my biggest challenges was computers. I managed to type with one finger, I still do.”

Sonia believes that it was certainly worth it to go and study; she’d recommend it to anyone, at any age. You should at least give it a try.

“If you tried and failed at least you have tried.”

Sonia is currently a grade 4 educator and she loves her job, she loves her learners. She knows that she makes a difference in someone’s life every single day. She says that she will never forget the day a learner came back to her after two years to thank her for having taught her Afrikaans.

COVID-19 has been a learning curve because Sonia realised how much she misses her learners.

“It is unbelievable how much they matter in my life. So I’m very very happy that I went to go and study.”

Sonia’s piece of advice is that, “You need to have your very own drive. Something that you’re going to set your mind to. Make sure that it’s something that you want to do. There’s going to be tough times ahead, but as long as you have that drive you will pull through.”


If you enjoyed this article read about a social worker’s struggles here

Tell us: Do you think that you have the drive to make your dreams a reality?