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Learner overcomes obstacles

A matriculant from Malibu High School in Blue Downs overcame great odds to achieve seven distinctions in the 2020 matric examinations.

Rochelle Jacobs refers to herself as an ordinary girl with an extraordinary God.

“I’m one of seven siblings and the first of them to matriculate. A few years ago my father lost his job and we all had to split, living with different people because of circumstances and I had to mature at a young age. At a time I lived with teachers just to attend school because academics was always what I excelled in. I held on to it tight because I felt the safest with my nose stuck in a book. I’ve always been living with different people and everything was always temporary for me,” says Jacobs.

In her Grade 11 year things became more stable for her. “That year my uncle and aunt took me in and I’ve lived with them since. I had to travel from Mitchell’s Plain to Malibu every day, which was something I never really got used to, but I had to turn my fear into faith knowing that I’d have to do whatever it takes to finish.

“My uncle gave me that sense of security and always motivated me to do well because he saw my potential. Many people saw that, especially the educators at my school. Each and every one of them helped me and guided me on the right path, which I’ll be eternally grateful for. My motivation came from my younger siblings. I desperately want to be a positive role model to them and show them that nothing is impossible. Your circumstances do not determine your future,” says Jacobs.

She says her study routine was simple.

“I studied to understand, not to memorise and I think that’s what made me do well. I didn’t study every day as people might assume, but just listened attentively during lessons, so studying became more like revision to me. I would literally stand in front of the mirror and say things aloud to gain understanding. Last year was a difficult year indeed. For me, who prefer contact learning, it was a huge adjustment. Having online schooling and finding that balance to do your work with the many distractions at home took a lot of discipline. When we did however return to school, the emotional stress of the pandemic took a toll as well because I feared going to school and coming home infecting my loved ones.

“My favourite subjects would have to be business studies and life sciences. I feel like the teachers who taught me those subjects showed so much enthusiasm that it rubbed off on me and it was so interesting that I use to come home and explain what I’ve learnt to my uncle and even taught him a few things as well. He now knows the anatomy of the eye and ear because of my constant explanations every evening,” says Jacobs.

She says throughout her schooling career she was asked what she wants to be when she grows up and each time the answer was different. “Now I know I want to pursue a career in business or law. I see myself as a passionate, independent boss lady who owns many businesses and makes a mark in the corporate world,” she says.

This year she will be studying towards a business degree at the University of the Western Cape.

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