The University of the Western Cape’s Chante Heynes: inspiration to students
The University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) Chante Heynes overcame the odds to realize her dream of graduating with her Bachelor of Laws degree at the University’s Autumn Graduation Ceremony 2018 in April.
The Kuils River student, was diagnosed with idiopathic intracranial hypertension after a car accident in her third year of study, leaving her with severe headaches and visual problems.
Due to the rapid deterioration of her health, she was forced to stop her studies and seek treatment - but Chante was determined not to let that stop her from achieving her dreams.
“I decided that if I was well enough by the beginning of the academic year in 2015, I would continue to pursue my LLB,” she says, “so I was re-admitted to complete my third year.”
Her visual impairment made studying difficult - but luckily, she had some help.
“I was not alone throughout my journey - I was blessed with the assistance of the amazing staff at UWC’s Office for Students with Disabilities and Special Needs,” she says. “Evadné Abrahams, Carmen Loubser and Zeena Spannenberg were a true blessing to me, and really helped me tremendously with my transition back into varsity.”
Fast forward two years, and Chante was beginning her final year as a law student - but everything wasn't sunshine and roses.
“My health was still deteriorating, and by the time June exams came around, I was being admitted to hospital for brain surgery,” she explains. “But I was determined to complete my final year - even if that meant pushing my body extremely hard!”
She returned to university in August and wrote SDA exams for the modules she was unable to write in June prior to her surgery.
“I was only scheduled to be back at campus during September, but I was not going to let this illness steal my degree and all my hard work away from me. All my lecturers were informed of my situation and they were extremely accommodating - allowing me breathing room to cope with my newfound challenges.”
But even though Chante will never be fully rid of her brain illness and visual impairment, she won’t allow that to get in the way of her education. She started her Masters this year - and she’s making the most of it.
“I'm now studying towards my LLM in Criminal Justice and Procedure whilst working as a Graduate Lecturing Assistant at the Law Faculty.”
It’s not easy, but it’s worth it - and Chante is happy to be able to share the experience with people who matter.
“Today, I can proudly say that, through the Grace of God, the support of family and friends and especially the support of UWCs lecturing staff and the staff of OSwD, I will be walking across the stage in my hood and gown and my degree in hand,” she says.
“Thank you to everyone that has walked with me on this journey and who has grown with me during this time!”
UWC’s 2018 Autumn Graduation ceremony runs from Wednesday 4 April through to Wednesday 11 April - a full week of celebrating amazing graduates who’re going out to make their mark in the world. For a graduation timetable, just click here. To see the grad ceremonies from the comfort of your own home (or phone, laptop, etc.), the ceremonies are live-streamed here and grad pics can be viewed on Flickr.