‘Do not give up on yourself’

Chandre de Jager, 35, found herself doing both matric and career subjects after she decided to resume her education after dropping out of school in the early 2000s. She is now in her final year as a student of transport and logistics at the College of Cape Town and is encouraging others not to give up on their dreams.

Chandre de Jager, Tafelsig

Doing both matric and career subjects was never what I envisioned for myself at the age of 35, but here I am on the verge of passing.

It wasn’t an easy journey. I was a school drop-out in the early 2000s. I never believed in myself. At the time, my self-esteem was at its lowest and giving up was the easiest option for me. I did not love nor value myself for more than 20 years. I experienced many kinds of abuse. I could not meet the expectations of others. I lacked confidence and never was family oriented.

When I was much younger, my family and friends would always encourage me to complete my matric, but, trust me, I always tried to avoid the topic. I just could not visualise myself sitting with books.

Years later, God opened a door to a room filled with opportunities, which I have accepted wholeheartedly. I knew it was time for change in a different direction and time to create a better stronger version of Chandre. This opportunity allowed me to start my college journey in 2020, a second chance to resume my education.

I am in my final year as a student of transport and logistics at the College of Cape Town. All glory to God.

I can honestly say that within the 3-years of studying it has not been the easiest. In my first year, I experienced the intenseness of the Covid-19 pandemic, was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and then within eight-months I lost two siblings.

But I kept going. Giving up was never an option. I was determined to do something for myself, prove to myself that I am not worthless. That I have the capacity and recognised the significance of my being.

Here I am. I simply cannot get enough of my books. Education has no age restriction and our circumstances do not define us.

Therefore, I want to encourage someone out there: do not give up on yourself or on pursuing your dreams, regardless of your age and impediments. You will be rewarded for the seeds you plant under the soil. You can do it. Do it for you.

I discovered the significance of family after the demise of my siblings and I simply do not want to do anything without them. It’s for this reason I took them along to my matric ball to celebrate me. That night I was nominated by college lecturers and students as queen for making the greatest impact in their lives.

It was an amazing experience to have my mom witness that moment. My life, I realised, is not my own.