chancellor, divorced, document, heart, High Court, Home Affairs, husband, Johannesburg, laughter, living in sin, married, Matriculation Board, perseverance, South Africa, story, studying, Uber, Unisa, university, woman
I didn’t come here to be average
I have some fabulous news to share with you. In addition; to chat to you about perseverance and why you should not accept when people say you cannot do it. Yes, you can.
Why not start at the beginning of this series, before you read on….
In July of this year, I realized I qualified for a matric exemption due to mature age.
I started the process of applying to the Matriculation Board for the certificate.
I decided to register with UNISA (a distance learning institution) to study a Bachelor of Art. Distance suited me perfectly. Attending lectures does not really fit into my busy schedule. In addition, I can do one module at a time until I am back in the mind-set of studying.
Once I had decided to pursue my studies. I started the process at the beginning of July and only received my confirmation letter a couple of days before the closing date. I was under a very tight deadline as applications closed at the end of September. I finally got everything I needed to apply, and then discovered that if you are divorced you have to submit a copy of your divorcee decree. UNISA is one of the only institutions that request this information.
I took myself off to Home Affairs to obtain a copy, only to find out that I was still married!! The documentation had never been submitted and the system updated. So essentially the almost husband and I were “living in sin”. Then I found out that the document could only be obtained from the High Court. Those of you living in South Africa will know that these courts are located in the center of the City. Johannesburg CBD is especially, a very dangerous place to find yourself! I had to take more time off work to go to the court. Now, just to remind you, I had only a few days before applications closed. So I hopped into an Uber and made my way into the CBD. I figured a woman driving around trying to find parking may be a bit of a dangerous position to put myself in.
On arrival at 3pm, I was informed that the department I needed to go to was closed. The man who was helping me said I could go up and see if there was someone still there. Off I trekked to the 10th floor of the building. On arrival, I found that the door was open and someone was sitting at the counter… YAAY. I requested a copy of the decree from 2009, and the person nearly fell off his chair with laughter. ‘We will never be able to find a document from that far back’. I wanted to burst into tears. He then informed me that I could speak to his supervisor, Trevor. Thankfully, he was still in his office. I explained my story of how this document would change the course of my life, not only concerning the studying, but the almost husband and I would never be able to get married. He agreed to try to find it. The archiving at the court is non-existent. All the boxes that contained the documents were crushed and stacked on top of one another. My heart sank; I knew he would never find it. After about half an hour he came back with the document!! I have no idea how he found it. I just started to cry. He made copies for me certified them and did not even charge me! I was walking on sunshine when I left the court.
Now the last step was to get my application in ASAP. I compiled all the documents and sent them off. Only to receive and email stating that UNISA could not accept my application due the lack of a matric certificate. The disappointment was unbelievable.
I went home heartbroken.
While sitting outside having a cup of tea with my daughter explaining the situation, she turned to me and said, “I have always seen you fight for us when it was needed, now it’s time for you to fight for yourself”. I could not just take the word of a call center worker; I said to her, “Yes, you are right I am not going to accept her word”. I would escalate it to the Registrar of the university. For those of you who do not know, the registrar oversees all academic, enrollment and student matters. One below the Vice Chancellor (principle). I began to draft the email there and then, explaining my situation. When I arrived at work the next day, there was a reply from him, confirming that I could apply with an age exemption certificate. His replying was an absolute miracle, as no one at university answers their phones or responds to emails timeously.
I re-submitted my documentation with his email attached. This was eventually completed a day before the closing date; talk about cutting it fine! Now begins the long wait to hear if I have been accepted.
Moral of the story, NEVER give up on your dreams. Persevere until you achieve what you set out to do. I do not believe anyone came here to be average.
The Story of Sylvia Rose is a series published once-a-month. The articles are the work of Jo’burg Gypsy.
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