Mom meets challenge after challenge head-on to graduate
In her first year of university, she was diagnosed with a learning disorder, but that would not be the end of her troubles
Perseverance does pay, and Jessica Fouché is testimony to this.
The Stellenbosch University student was diagnosed with a learning disorder and an anxiety disorder after enrolling for an accounting degree in 2014.
While writing her final exams in 2014 and 2015, she was the victim of two armed robberies.
In 2016, she switched from an accounting degree to a commerce degree in industrial psychology.
Then in November 2017, she fell pregnant.
Despite this, Fouché, 25, now a stay-at-home mom, graduated with a commerce degree this week.
She said her problems started in her first year after a psychologist diagnosed her with a learning disability.
“I saw the psychologist because I was getting results back that weren’t reflecting the effort I was putting in.”
To add to her woes, she was held at knifepoint two days before she was due to write her mercantile law paper in November 2014, forcing her to write the supplementary paper a month later.
“The armed robbery was very traumatic, as the man held me hostage with a knife and demanded that my friend hand over her belongings. He ran off as campus security arrived.”
The university asked her to see a psychiatrist after noticing she was performing poorly academically. It was then that she was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
“It was tough, but I made use of every service that the university offered to help me with study methods. I started teaching myself how to learn from scratch.”
She said that in her second year she realised she did not have the aptitude to study accounting.
“I realised that the things that I valued most in life don’t really align with the sort of career path that I chose. I could either persevere and carry on the degree I was not enjoying or I could change.”
Days before writing the Auditing I paper in November 2015, she and her boyfriend, whom she married in January, were held at knifepoint in his flat.
She failed the auditing exam and decided to switch degrees at the beginning of 2016.
“Once I changed degrees, I managed better as I got a handle on how to study and what to focus on.”
After giving birth in July 2018, her husband and parents took turns to babysit while she continued with her studies.
Fouche could only apply for four weeks of maternity leave, as she had to write her Organisational Psychology III exam.
“My experience taught me to speak up and ask for help and not try to do things on your own. It also taught me not to just give up because I know it’s very easy to drop out of university.”
Fouché said: “If you have the resources and the support structure, you can make it work. You can still complete your degree and be a mom at the same time.”